The King's Speech

After all the hype and the four Oscars I eventually got to see The King’s Speech last week. It’s a fascinating story about a sovereign with a stutter.

Phil Jenkins | 18:12, Friday, 01 April 2011

If you haven’t seen it yet – perhaps you’re waiting for the DVD to be released in May – then here’s the official synopsis: 

After the death of his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth) who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI of England. With his country on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a rough start, the two delve into an unorthodox course of treatment and eventually form an unbreakable bond. With the support of Logue, his family, his government and Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), the King will overcome his stammer and deliver a radio-address that inspires his people and unites them in battle.

So was it a great cinema going experience?  Opinions vary. You can see how it’s the sort of film that award shows love to celebrate. It’s a beautifully crafted historical drama with an unenviable opportunity for the central character to display the physical and emotional challenge of the role.  Here, Colin Firth undoubtedly excels.  But is it almost too painful, too narrow in its focus to be a popular success?  I don’t think so, although my wife did confess to coming out with a headache through the continual struggle to listen to the king trying to speak!  

What struck me above all else was that for the king to find his voice he had to lose his dignity. Instead of looking down on people he had to look up to a person from down under!  The king had to swallow his pride, overcome his anger and eat with awkwardness at the table of the commoner.  The way down is often the way up.  But I couldn’t help reflecting on the difference between King George and King Jesus who willingly made himself of no reputation and gladly chose humiliation, so that commoners like us can have a seat at the table of The King.


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