The King’s Speech
Tom Hooper’s The King Speech is a feel good film with an interesting but true story to go along with it. Not filled with many surprises but it will not leave you feeling disappointed. This is due to two outstanding performances by both Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. The film has gained a lot of media attention with receiving the most Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. Is this film worth all of the praise?
The King’s Speech is about Bertie, Duke of York (Colin Firth) who is the younger son of the elderly King George V. One of duties that comes along with being a King or leader of an empire is the ability to speak in public. This is especially important during this time period as Britain was entering into war with Germany. Unfortunately for Bertie this would not be easy as he has a stammer, the stuttering of words.
The opening scene of the film we see Bertie attempting to present a speech in front a large crowd but his stammer got the best of him and failed to give a worthwhile speech. Instead we are left with an embarrassed leader who basically has no voice. He does everything he can to get out of speaking more than a few sentences, even with his kids when they request that he reads them a story, he is reluctant.
He has seemingly seen all of the speech therapists out there but still he has not overcome his speech problem. That is where Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) comes in. Without Bertie’s knowing, his wife meets with him. Lionel likes to play by his own rules and insists Bertie comes to him. Lionel seems both confident and stubborn but most importantly, willing to help.
When the two first meet they both fight for territory, dictating how they want to be addressed and how the meeting should be ran. Both are stubborn in their own ways and perhaps because of that, Bertie does not think his unorthodox methods will help him with his stammer. He storms out of Lionel’s office.
It is only a short while later though, he realizes that Lionel’s ways may not be so absurd and he agrees to work with him. Lionel over and over tries to find little rewards to Bertie for completing certain tasks, much like Pavlov would have done. Bertie is always so reluctant to follow the instructions which is a bit frustrating but eventually comes around and does what he is told.
In one heart-felt scene Bertie does what he said he would not do in the very beginning and that is talk about his personal matters. He spills what is likely the cause of his stammer, that this father was very hard on him as a child. Also mentions that he was ridiculed and often corrected which are common causes of picking up a stammer.
It becomes clear to Lionel (and the viewer) that Bertie may not only be coming to him for his speech problem. Lionel realizes that Bertie could be someone great if he was not so timid and shy. He could be a leader if he was not so afraid of leading and a great speaker if we only could speak clearly.
After his father, King George V, passes away, it is his brother Edward (Guy Pearce) would be taking his place as the King. Bertie is quite alright with this as he does not want to take on the role, mostly because of his speech problem. However, he learns his brother is wants a divorce of his current wife in order to marry the woman he truly loves.
This terrifies Bertie and he tries to encourage his brother to reconsider, mainly because he is afraid of assuming the role. As no good news to him, his brother Edward renounces the throne because of his interest of another woman. This means without choice that Bertie will now take over as the King whether he is ready to be or not.
There is some good use of symbolism when Lionel tells Bertie his does not need to carry around his father in his pocket just because his face is on the coins he carries. Because he needs to get over the causes of which he acquired the stammer from in order to improve his condition.
Colin Firth is without a doubt deserving the nominations he has received for his role. In fact, I expect he will rightfully win Best Actor at this year’s Oscars. However, I do not see how Helena Bonham Carter was nominated for Best Supporting Female; she was not very important in the film nor was she even in it all that much. On the other hand, Geoffrey Rush did such a brilliant job playing the stubborn but clever speech therapist. He completed the film and I feel without him The King’s Speech would not have been as pleasant.
So do I think The King’s Speech is worthy of all the praise it has gained? For the most part, yes. As I mentioned before the acting was suburb and as a whole the film was well done. The story about the King with no voice is interesting but fairly straight-forward and does not have much depth. It is not hard to guess what is going to happen and it does not try hard to change that. Which is why I think it will win some of the Acting awards but nothing more. It is an inspiring film, even more so if you have speech difficulties, that is well worth a watch.