Thursday, June 23, 2011

The King's Speech Speaks for Itself

   One of the best films of the year (if not THE best) is “The King’s Speech.”  It was released on December 24, 2010 in the United States.  This historical drama follows the life of England’s King George VI in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and how he must overcome his speech impediment of stammering.
          Being part of the royal family, Prince Albert, Duke of York (Firth) must attend to royal duties, such as speech-making and public appearances.  Due to his stammer, Albert has much difficulty with these tasks.  After many failed attempts to cure him, his wife, the Duchess (Helena Bonham Carter) convinces him to see an Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who lives in London.
        Albert first objects to it, but finally goes.  While there, Albert feels harassed by Logue from all the personal questions he asks him.  What really frustrates him is when Logue asks him to read a soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Hamlet while simultaneously listening to classical Mozart music.  Sure that he stuttered throughout the speech, he leaves in a huff with the recording Logue made of him speaking.  It is not until after their first session together that Albert and the Duchess realize Logue is different from all the physicians he had seen, and is able to help him with his speech impediment.  The recording Logue had made of Albert speaking is free of stammers, which is the most remarkable breakthrough they had ever seen.  Throughout the film, Albert makes progress in overcoming his stammer with the assistance of Logue.
         Colin Firth delivers completely as the stammering King George VI.  One of his best performances earned him an Academy Award, and his “stammer” was incredibly convincing.  He and his supporting actor, Geoffrey Rush, had remarkable on-screen chemistry.  In real life, George VI and Logue became life-long friends, and both actors portrayed such a friendship wonderfully.  Rush also provides some comic relief to the film with his brilliant one-liners.    Helena Bonham Carter was perfect for the role of the Duchess of York. Widely praised for her performance, she satisfied all.
          Screenwriter David Seidler as a child developed a stammer from post-traumatic stress caused by the murder of his grandparents during the Holocaust.  He then became inspired by George VI, a king who had to overcome a stutter. He said, “Here was a stutterer who was a king and had to give radio speeches where everyone was listening to every syllable he uttered, and yet did so with passion and intensity.”  He decided to research the king as an adult, but came up with a dearth of information on Logue.  He then interviewed Logue’s son, and got permission to make a film about George VI from the Queen Mother, George VI’s wife.  She objected for it to be done during her lifetime, so when she passed away in 2002, he began developing the film.  
          At the eighty-third Academy Awards, “The King’s Speech” won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor (Colin Firth), and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler).  These awards were well-deserved, and although “The King’s Speech” didn’t win all twelve of its nominations, there is no reason as to why you shouldn’t see such a film that’ll leave you speechless!

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