"The King’s Speech" - a personal reaction

Well, any self-respecting Film Studies teacher simply has to go and see those films that are being acclaimed by the critics and are up for awards, if only to better inform his/her students and perhaps encourage them to see the film in question. So, off I went to see what all the fuss was about.

"The King's Speech" is full of very British wry, self-deprecating humour, affectionate digs at the royal family and tremendous performances. I never got the sense that Colin Firth was playing his character's handicap to the gallery, nor was he simply baiting the Academy Awards voters with yet another Oscar-friendly performance involving physical handicap. In fact, his handicap was much more an emotional one. I felt there was a real emotional honesty and depth to his portrayal (and the swearing is hilarious!). Both Helena Bonham-Carter and Geoffrey Rush are worthy of awards too. I loved B-C's knowing humour and intelligence as Bertie's wife (who for people of my generation and older was simply the "Queen Mum") though how close to reality this was is anyone's guess!

But ultimately, for me at least, the film was a story about friendship + courage: the friendship being between "Bertie" (the future King George VI) and Lionel Logue (the always wonderful Geoffrey Rush), his speech therapist, but more importantly his closest and most trustworthy friend, someone who believed in Bertie totally and gave him the strength to believe in himself (they remained friends for life, Logue being present at every public speech that King George VI gave thereafter).

I found the ending very moving. This final section is brilliantly shot and choreographed. It is also wonderfully scored to the sombre slow mvt. from Beethoven's 7th Symph. (an inspired choice, for Beethoven's increasing deafness had by then really taken hold). So the frustration of a now deaf composer accompanies the climactic battle of a stammerer to overcome his inner demons with the help of a close friend.

.... and I'm not at all a Royalist, in case you were wondering!!


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