Monday, February 28, 2011

The King's Speech (2010)

Title: The King’s Speech (2010)

Director: Tom Hooper

Cast: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce


The King’s Speech was the big winner on Oscar night 2011. It won four Academy Awards: Best Actor (Colin Firth) Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler), Best Director (Tom Hooper) and Best Film of the Year. I thought it deserved the awards that it got, because it is a good film, with excellent performances and a well written screenplay. Personally, I was rooting for Darren Aronofsky to win the Oscar for Best Director for Black Swan, but whatever, as it turns out The King’s Speech was the big winner of the night. You know how The Academy loves an inspirational film with characters conquering their fears and achieving their goals. Black Swan was probably too dark a movie for The Academy, who we all know likes their winning films to be happy, shinny and up lifting. The King’s Speech certainly fits those prerequisites.

The King’s Speech is a film that focuses on the pressures and stress that fall upon a political figure. You and I (read: the common man) can’t really grasp what it means to suddenly become such an important political figure for a whole nation, so the movie does a wonderful job of doing it for us. It’s interesting to note that King George VI (played by Colin Firth) became king only when his brother, King Edward VIII (played by Guy Pearce) renounced the thrown. When King Edward VIII inherits the throne, moments after his fathers death, the first thing he does is burst into uncontrollable crying. At first we think he is crying over his fathers death, but it soon becomes clear that he is crying because he doesn’t want all the responsibility that comes with the title. Apparently, all King Edward VIII wanted to do was have a good time through life, partying, falling in love, he didn’t care about being a King, which is why after a short tenor as the King of England, King Edward VIII renounces the thrown and hands it over to his brother King George VI. Problem is, King George VI has a speech impediment, he stammers and the stammering gets worse when he has to addresses the nation. Enter Geoffrey Rush, speech therapist, to help him with his problem.

The most interesting aspect for me about this film was how The King of England has to come down from his royal palace to meet with a common man to help him out of his dilemma. Geoffrey Rush’s character Lionel Logue isn’t a high class aristocrat, nope; he is just a common man who is good at what he does. He doesn’t even have a degree! Yet here he is; the kings’ last hope. The film constantly questions the seat of power; it literally tries to bring the high and mighty King, the ultimate representation of political power, down to a more human level. Lionel Logue constantly tries to humanize The King, begging for him to come off his high horse. I think the movie quite cleverly squeezes these themes in the film, sort of reminding governments, hey, you know, you wouldn’t be up there if it wasn’t for the help of the common man, the poor guy who has a family to feed and does an honest days work. And I really liked that about the film. It’s the king actually listening, spending time, and thanking the commoner for his services. I liked that idea, because it’s something that those in power sometimes forget: that the governed are real people, with real situations, they aren’t just statistics. So kudos to the movie for that.

It also questions the power that a political figure actually has. I mean, just how powerful is a King or a President of a nation? In certain cases, and this holds true for the United States as well, the King or the President is just a symbolic figure, the big honchos making the decisions are really back stage, while the king or president is just there to talk to the people. One scene has the King saying: “If I am King, then where is my power? Can I declare war? Form a government? Levy a tax? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority because the people think that when I speak, I speak for them” There is another scene where Lionel sits in this royal chair where only kings and queens have sat in. The king gets his panties all up in a bunch over this telling Lionel to get off the chair, that he is trivializing everything. Lionel tells the king: “I don’t care how many Royal assholes have sat on this chair, its just a chair.” I liked this aspect of the film because sometimes people tend to deify political figures and forget that they are just humans, with fears and limitations, same as you or I.

I enjoyed the film mainly because it’s a film that begs governments to show a thread of humanity with its ‘loyal subjects’. It bets for governments to treat their subjects, however common they maybe, with the dignity and respect they deserve. Because who knows, maybe one day they might need us for something. It’s a movie that gives value to the common man as an important part of society. I loved the performances; Geoffrey Rush plays such an adorable, goofy and candid character. I love it how he confronts the king, brings him down to a more human level. Colin Firth starts out as a stubborn guy who hates himself and his stammering, a guy who is filled with anger. He slowly, with the help of Lionel, learns to deal with his anger, conquer his speech impediment and finally addresses the nation in the proper way. It’s the reason why the film won four Oscars, it’s an uplifting tale, where a man goes through this whole evolution, and conquers his fears. In the process, he learns a thing or two about humility, sympathy for others and true friendship.

Speaking of conquering ones fears and all that, the screenwriter for The King’s Speech, David Seidler also stammered when he was a child, and King George’s story motivated him to over come it, so the film has a bit of authenticity to it when it comes to the whole psychological process of overcoming a speech impediment. Another Interesting thing about David Seidler is that up to this point he had been working mostly on writing straight to dvd and television films like the David Carradine vehicles Kung Fu Killer (2008) and Son of the Dragon (2006). His only brushes with theatrical releases were his scripts for Tucker a Man and His Dream (1988) and an animated feature film called Quest for Camelot (1998). He’d always wanted to write a film about King George VIII, so he started working on the screenplay which he’d always had in the back of his head. Low and behold, years down the line he ends up winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and the film itself is the big winner of the night! Seidler isn’t exactly a young pup (he’s well into his seventies) yet here he is in his Golden Years, winning an Academy Award. When he received the award he said “My father always told me I’d be a late bloomer!” He gave a great acceptance speech at the Oscars, without a bit of stammering to be heard! Hooray for late bloomers!

Rate: 5 out of 5

Tucker - The Man and His Dream


jervaise brooke hamster said...

How much longer are the American movie going public going to allow themselves to be taken in by unwatchable British made garbage like this, when will they ever learn ?.

Franco Macabro said...

Why did you find the film to be garbage? Enlighten us, I love opinionated comments.

SFF said...

Of all the oscar noms this is the one I'm most interested in seeing. Well, tat, The Fighter and Inception.

I enjoyed your take on it and certainly hope its better than JBH indicates.

Take care

Franco Macabro said...

Thanks for the comment Sci-fi fanatic!

As far as inspirational dramas go, this one was top notch, with Geoffrey Rush making things all the more interesting with his likable portrayal of the goofy speech therapist.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

"The kings Speech" is garbage simply because it is British made. For 122 years (since the invention of the cinematograph circa 1889) the British film industry has been a ludicrous pathetic joke producing nothing but laughable crap for that entire time period. Think of the most appalling American film you`ve ever seen ("Plan 9 From Outer Space", "Robot Monster", "Attack Of the Killer Tomatoes", etc, etc) and it would still be 1000 times better and entertaining by itself than everything that the British film industry has ever produced put together over the last 122 years, just think about that for a mo-girl-t and hopefully you will never waste your time polluting or besmirching this marvellous site with any more British made rubbish ever again. Francisco, please make sure that you only reveiw American made films on this site from now on because (as i said) even at their absolute worst they are still infinitely better than anything that the British film industry has ever produced (or could ever dream of producing at any time in the future).

Franco Macabro said...

Hey Jervaise, you have to back up your opinions with something, you cant just say something is "garbage" and thats that. Your reasons for not liking a film would be more useful then just saying something is garbage.

Plus, I dont know what you are talking about, many fine films are British ; many of which I have reviewed on this blog, and will continue to do so.

Dont know what you have against the British, but if your going to comment here, I would appreciate it if you did so respectfully, many of my readers and friends are British, I'd appreciate some respect towards them and everyone one in here.

Marcus said...

Ok, if the Academy likes only uplifting, happy movies, then why did The Hurt Locker win last year? lol

Movies on my Mind said...

KING'S SPEECH was a bland affair.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Francisco, "Movies on my Mind" was closer to the truth with regards to their opinion, in fact they told "the truth", "the whole truth", and "nothing but the truth" about "The Kings Speech" over on their site (i suggest you read what they said). Now, with regards to being respectful to your British readers and the British film industry in general, it is rather difficult for me to show respect towards something that has been a ludicrous pathetic joke for 122 years. Its also quite difficult to explain specifically why the British film industry has been the laughable abomination that it has been for all that time because there are such a great number of different factors and reasons that have led to the (so-called) British film industry being the murderous disgrace that it is today (and always has been and always will be). Perhaps one example would be that essentially the British film industry is still producing exactly the same unimaginative, out-moded, unwatchable hogwash now that it was producing 50 years ago, they just haven`t moved on one iota, now compare that to the astonishing leaps and bounds forward that the American film industry has made in that same 50 year period, there really is no comparison. Thats basically the reason why the British film industry is a laughable, pathetic, joke and the American film industry is brilliant, breathtaking and magnificent. Once again i emplore you to read what "Movies on my Mind" wrote on this subject over on their site, it will educate and enlighten you even more about what is arguably the biggest conn and deception in the world, namely: the (so-called..ha..ha..ha) British film industry.

Franco Macabro said...

@Marcus: I guess sometimes they make exceptions!

@Movies On My Mind: I didnt find it dull or bland, I thought it was a well written drama.

@jervaise: Movies on my Mind gave their opinion in their review as I gave mine, thats all, its the way they saw the film, I happen to differ.

As for the British film industry being rubbish, I've seen far too many good British films to come to that conclusion.

But hey, same as with any country: theres good films and there's bad films, doesnt matter what country we're talking about. I dont think its fair on your part to say every British film ever made is garbage because that just isnt so.

Franco Macabro said...

Here are some examples of Great British Cinema:

- Withnail and I
- A Canterbury Tale
- Black Narcissus
- The Red Shoes
- The Meaning of Life
- Time Bandits
- Brazil
- Life of Brian
- Oliver!
- Chariots of Fire
- Billy Elliot
- Horror of Dracula
- Curse of Frankenstein
- Charlie Chaplins Films
- If...
- Lawrence of Arabia
- Alfie
- Repulsion
- Fahrenheit 451
- Murder on the Orient Express
- Dont Look Now
- In the Company of Wolves
- The Wicker Man
- The Devils
- Straw Dogs
- Quadrophenia
- The Mission
- A Fish Called Wanda
- The Madness of King George
- The English Patient
- The Full Monty
- Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
- Snatch
- Trainspotting
- Shallow Grave

Not to mention all the British Actors that make great films year after year:

Christian Bale
Anthony Hopkins
Christopher Lee
Ralph Fiennes
Rupert Everett
Michael Caine
Simon PEgg
Tilda Swinton
Rachel Weisz
Daniel Day Lewis
Ben Kingsley
Alan Rickman
Bill Nighy
Helen Mirren
Sacha BAron Cohen
Michael Gambon
JEremy Irons
Kate Winslet

I mean, need I go on?

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Francisco, geezer, my old mate, i really appreciate you going to the trouble of making those lists but the problem is that such a high number of those films represent prime examples of what i was talking about with regards to the problem of the British film industry still producing the same garbage that they were producing 50 years ago, in fact some of the films on that list are so murderously unwatchable and appalling that i wouldn`t watch them if somebody payed me $1000 dollars to do so ! ! !. Now, with regards to the actors and actresses in the other list, i genuinely think they`re all a bunch of pretentious, talentless, tossers and farts who cant act for toffee. Francisco i think its also important for you to realise that if you only knew the things i know about Britain and British society in general you`d never waste your time with anything British ever again, celluloid or otherwise, believe me my old mate.

Franco Macabro said...

I guess we'll have to agree to disagre Jervaise, I hold many of those films and actors in high regard!

Jack L said...

Great review Francisco.
I fully agree with you, The King's Speech is a fine example of the great films Britain can produce and I'm glad it won the Oscar. It certainly deserved it!

btw, I know it's not really my business but you really shouldn't waste your time with such commenters as the one above. People who hate something just for the sake of hating it without reasoning or backing up their arguments are annoying to say the least.
I fully agree with you, Britain has produced many great films such as the ones you listed and will continue to do so for many more years. I would also recommend checking out Mike Leigh's work, such as Secrets and Lies or more recently Another Year, Ken Loach is great as well, with films like The Wind That Shakes The Barley and Land And Freedom...

Anyway, great review!

Franco Macabro said...

Thanks for your comments Jack,

I give everyone a fair chance at saying what they gotta say, but if I see a pattern of negative comments without any merit, they will get ignored and deleted. I like to run a blog filled with love and respect for everyone. Thanks for your suggestions, I've always been curious to check out Secrets and Lies.


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