2011 the king's speech

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  • 7/27/2019 2011 the King's Speech



    AND THE REST By Philip French

    Hats offto a

    reluctant hero


    e Kings Speech(118mins,12A)DirectedbyTomHooper;starringColinFirth,GeoffreyRush,HelenaBonhamCarter,MichaelGambon,GuyPearce

    WH Auden wrote his poemSeptember 1, 1939 while sittingin a New York bar: Uncertain andafraid/ As the clever hopes expire/ Ofa low dishonest decade. The KingsSpeechtakes a rather different viewof Britain and the 1930s, though itsnot entirely inconsistent with Audensjudgment and isnt in any sense whatis sneeringly called heritage cinema. Itis the work of a highly talented groupof artists who might be regarded asBritish realists Tom Hooper directedthe soccer epic The Damned United;Eve Stewart was production designeron Mike Leighs Topsy-Turvy and VeraDrake; Jenny Beavan was responsiblefor the costumes worn in GosfordPark and The Remains of the Day;

    the cinematographer Danny Cohenlit Shane Meadowss This is EnglandandDead Mans Shoes; Tariq Anwars

    editing credits range from The Madnessof King George toAmerican Beauty; andthe screenplay is by the British writerDavid Seidler, who co-wrote CoppolasTucker: The Man and His Dream.

    The film is the private story of a

    famous public man, King George VI(known in his family circle as Bertie),the woman who loved him andbecame his queen, and the innovativeAustralian speech therapist LionelLogue, who helped him control andcome to terms with the stammer thathad tortured him since childhood.

    The social and political background,acutely observed and carefully woveninto the films fabric, is the Depressionat home, the rise of fascism abroad,and the arrival of the mass media asa major force in our lives. Central tothe dramatic action are four crucialincidents: the death in 1936 of George

    V, the first monarch to address hissubjects via the radio; the accessionto the throne of his eldest son asEdward VIII and his almost immediateabdication in order to marry Americandouble divorcee Wallis Simpson; thecrowning of his successor, George VI;and finally, in 1939, the outbreak ofa war for which the king and queenbecame figureheads of immeasurablenational significance alongside theirprime minister, Winston Churchill.

    Although the film involves a manovercoming a serious disability, it is

    neither triumphalist nor sentimental.Its themes are courage (where it comesfrom, how it is used), responsibility,

    and the necessity to place duty abovepersonal pleasure or contentment thesubjects, in fact, of such enduringlypopular movies as Casablanca andHigh

    Noon. In this sense, The Kings Speechis an altogether more significant andambitious work than Stephen Frearss

    admirableThe Queen of 2006 and fartranscends any political argumentsabout royalty and republicanism.

    The Kings Speech is more than a historylesson it is a study of quiet courage

    A major achievement:Colin Firth as George VI

    and HelenaBonhamCarteras Queen Elizabeth in

    e Kings Speech.

    The film begins with a briefprologue in which both Bertie asDuke of York (Colin Firth) and hiscontemporary audience endureagonies of embarrassment as heattempts to deliver a speech atWembley Stadium during the 1924

    Empire exhibition. The rest takes placebetween 1934 when his wife (HelenaBonham Carter) arranges for him to

    see Logue the unorthodox therapist(Geoffrey Rush), and shortly after thebeginning of the war when he makes acrucial live broadcast to the world fromBuckingham Palace, with Logue almostconducting the speech from the otherside of the microphone.

    Helena Bonham Carter is a warm,charming, puckish presence asElizabeth, very much aware of her royal

    whose mocking of his brothestammer places him beyond Derek Jacobi does a neat turnLang, the Archbishop of Canpillar of the establishment, atdictatorial and obsequious.

    The movie, however, ultiturns upon the skilfully writimpeccably played scenes bFirths Bertie, initially almoon his stammer but trained court protocol, and Rushs Linformal, blunt-speaking Auwhose manners are as relaxconsulting room in Harley Smodest. The interplay betwresembles a version ofPygmorMy Fair Ladyin which Elprincess and Henry Higginsmiddle-class teacher from Stheyre just as funny, movingconscious as in Shaws play.

    also, one might think, benignPrince Hal and FalstafffromAcross a great social gulf t

    friends, the king gaining in cand humanity, deeply affectefirst commoner hes befriendto the end there remains the preserve a certain distance.

    The film is not without itfaults, the truly annoying onrepresentation of Winston C(Timothy Spall) as a supportGeorge during the abdicatiofact, his intrigues in Edwardcause nearly ruined his carebiography of Churchill, Royremarks that had Churchilin keeping Edward VIII on the might well have found it in 1940 to depose and/or locsovereign as the dangerouslhead of a Vichy-style state

    But overall the film is a machievement, with Firth preus with a great profile in couportrait of that recurrent figstammerer as hero. He findsdifferent aspects of stammethe number of ways of photsand explored by Freddie Yo

    Lawrence of Arabiaor John The English Patient. And as tdeserves an Oscar.

    status when first approaching Logueusing a pseudonym. Michael Gambonis entirely convincing as George V,a peremptory man irritated by theincreasing demands of democracy;having been neglected by his own father,hes incapable of expressing love for his

    sons. Guy Pearce is equally good as theselfish, wilful future King Edward, themovies one truly despicable character,