The King’s Speech opens with Colin Firth nervously getting ready for a public address in Wembley Stadium. Pre-World War Two England is evoked through mist and fog to create a dreamlike sensation of a time gone by. Firth playing ‘Bertie’ son to King George V takes to the podium and delivers a ghastly speech punctuated by what can only be described as a speech impediment so bad he can barely speak. Cue Helena Bonham Carter in concerned wife mode touching her upper lip. She plays the Queen Mother in such a way as to avoid hamming up this familiar figure – in fact it is quite easy to forget as the film progresses that she is mother to the reigning Queen.
I have to say the English Royal family has never been my specialist topic when it comes to History and I did enjoy finding out a little more about their whys and wherefores. Although at times this did feel a little like watching an ITV special on ‘The Windsors’ complete with dramatic reconstruction. What rings true and clear is that England loves its Royal family and this film is brimming with pride, awe and reverence for an aristocracy that favoured appeasement for Germany’s advances in the Second World War. How easily history can be moulded. This factual foot note aside the film contains some excellent performances. Geoffrey Rush plays the speech therapist Lionel Logue (an Australian who opens up the future King to unconventional methods of speech therapy), Guy Pearce plays Firth’s older brother King Edward (I forget if it’s the III or IV, it could even be II, it really is of no consequence) – the roguish heir to the throne who debunks with his American mistress much to the distress of the media savvy Royals. Bertie or as we all come to know him, King George VI, takes to the throne. He is left with the admirable (one could almost say kingly) task of leading England into war. The speech of the title refers to his address to the nation on England’s declaring war.
It would seem that English Royals have had a way with media scandal down through the years. It is this very human aspect that appeals to the loyal masses – they see their monarchy undergoing personal distress and calamity and think – ‘that’s just like me you know’ except we are not Kings or Queens and never will be. Why? No real reason at all. A strange paradox of emotions really and the central reason that although this film is well made, acted with real integrity and possessing fine drama I couldn’t help but reserve myself from truly enjoying it. And the Oscar for the best actor in a motion picture goes to…
Take your Japanese plot line and transport to somewhere in Mexico. Bring your bad guy into the film and bring to the boil. Add Yul Brynner and the remaining 6 to the pot and simmer for two hours. Hmmm that’s one tasty western