THE KING'S SPEECH
Film review by Amanda Jacobson
Technical specs by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter,
Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi
Director: Tom Hooper
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Features: See Review
Length: 119 Minutes
Release Date: April 19, 2011
"If I'm King, where's my power? Can I form a government? Can I levy a tax, declare a war? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority. Why? Because the nation believes that when I speak, I speak for them."
This is the story of King George VI of Britain's impromptu ascension to the throne, and of a friendship to be considered truly lifelong and life altering.
The story tells of Prince Albert's reluctant transformation into King George VI and mastery over a quite tragic stammering impediment stemming from his early childhood caused by a cruel nanny. I'm sure you all recognize the uneasy and unnerving feeling of having to speak publicly , but can you imagine addressing your entire wealth of nations?
We open the movie as Albert addresses his people in public forum
and over the wire. Colin Firth almost brought tears to my eyes as I truly felt
his embarrassment in trying to give a public address, while having a very
pronounced stutter. Bertie sits partially through a speech therapy
lesson with six marbles in his mouth and is forced to speak and enunciate clearly. In frustration he spits them out and storms off, leaving the Queen to apologize for his behavior and dismiss the therapist. Fed up of the many doctors with credentials attempting to "cure him" of this affliction he resolves to have no further help.
The future Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) is strongly confident that with his father's diminishing health and playboy brother Edward's (Guy Pearce) questionable lifestyle, it would be wise to continue seeking help for reducing and ridding Albert's stammer. She heard that a Mr. Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) comes highly recommended for his service in speech therapy, so decided to meet with him using the faux name of Johnson. She advises how much of an importance it is for full discretion, as her "hubby" is a public figure and wouldn't be able to find a new line of work if he isn't cured of his stammering.
Mr. Logue agrees to meet with Albert to assess his situation , and then discuss the fee for his service. In meeting Mr. Logue, Bertie is forced out of his comfort zone and is made to recite Shakespeare while listening to a record at the same time. A bet is made for a shilling that Bertie will be able to flawlessly recite Shakespeare using this unexpected method. Thinking it is a crock, Bertie storms off, taking the recording of himself speaking.
After a discouraging public speech again, Bertie listens to the record, finding that he actually DOES owe this said shilling to Mr. Logue. He and the Queen are shocked to see this method actually worked. He returns to Logue's place to commence speech therapy. These unorthodox and unexpected techniques are utilized, and progress is made. Bertie takes up speaking engagements locally for starters. While therapy is continuing, his father's health is on the decline, and his brother makes a public spectacle by consorting with multiple married women. David falls madly head over heels for a divorced woman, Mrs. Wallis Simpson.
While a whirlwind of happenings in Bertie's life occur, King George V gives up his legal rights as king, because of his mental state. Bertie has a therapy session in which Bertie confides in Logue. Advising how stressful life is when you could be a king, but you feel your life is stifled. Logue oversteps his boundaries with Bertie and tries to let him know he feels HE should be King, and not David. The fallout occurs between Bertie and Logue. Silence and time lapse, being marked by the passing a choice is to be made of who will ascend the throne. His brother is made King Edward VIII. But he chooses to have love over money , and abdicates the throne to Bertie. He reluctantly assumes the throne.
Time isn't the strong suite of the Prince. It takes a while for a Prince to apologize. He comes to Logue as a friend and future King , George VI , asking for speech help with his coronation. He actually asks Logue to accompany his family in the King's box during coronation. The coronation is successful.
Stanley Baldwin (Anthony Andrews) resigns as Prime Minister in 1937 , and Neville Chamberlain replaces him, with the responsibility of going into war with Germany. The King has to address his people and rally them to remain strong, and boldly lead them through war in 1939. The speech to his a-peoples is vibrantly, indignantly delivered with the help of Logue. I sighed the same sigh of relief after The Queen did as King George VI walks out of his office to snap one quick press photo.
I read that in preparing to play Bertie, Firth carefully studied he audio and video recordings of his public addresses, newsreel footage and from a speech at the Empire Exhibition in Glasgow in 1938. He claimed it made a particular impression. "You see him manage for a while , and then you see him disappear into this terrible silence...I saw a kind of heroism in the fact that he just goes on, because he HAS to."
I will be the first to admit I'm a huge fan of pretty much each cast member, but I think seeing Colin Firth and Helena Bonham- Carter in these roles, brought pleasant tears to my eyes and gave me a new respect for showing the world someone's REAL life experiences. The King George Vi finally found a voice, a resounding voice in which he could deliver his inspiration to his people. I truly have a respect for this film! I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.
For some reason, the film stock used for this movie was a bit on the grainy side...maybe that was to film better using natural light. It's not distracting, but it IS noticeable. Colors look fine throughout, and the overall appearance of the period between the World Wars definitely comes through nicely on Blu-ray.
It's mostly a dialogue-driven movie...with a title like that, what would you expect? Though war is hinted at throughout, it never makes its presence known in the movie. The spoken words are clean and clear, but I give it a high mark mostly for the music, which is uplifting and beautiful throughout.
The extras are aimed more at history buffs than film buffs, but that doesn't mean there aren't some gems here. The disc starts with a commentary from director Tom Hooper and a Q&A session with the cast, plus a making of featurette. Then there is a look at the real-life friendship between King George VI and Lionel Logue, plus some archives of the real King's speeches, and a look at highlights of the real Lionel Logue.
The King's Speech earned Oscar glory for itself and its star, and I have no complaints about that. This is an inspiring period film that is splendidly told and superbly acted, and will definitely be one of your favorite movies of the year.