Friday 7 January 2011

Film: The King's Speech

I was lucky enough to see The King's Speech at the London Film Festival in the Autumn and have been telling everyone I know they have to see it since then. Now the film is about to go on general release so I'm going to say the same to you.

You have probably already gathered the King’s Speech is a film about the George VI’s stammer- and the Royal family more widely in the 1930s; the abdication crisis and the ‘gathering storm’ in Europe. The King's Speech is, clearly, a costume drama- but if you are the kind of person who normally avoids those please don't in this case- because to be honest the tailoring, clipped voices and period details are not what you are going to remember from this story- you are going to remember the two men it is about.

Really this film is a quiet but compelling story about a quiet but brave man, Bertie (or the Duke of York- or, later, King George VI) and his Speech Therapist. That therapist, Lionel Logue, is a stranger to the audience before the film- where Bertie, his wife and the other characters are people we feel we know very well- especially in the UK- even if we actually don't, or didn't.

To be able to speak, to communicate, is all- but that is easy to forget. Anyone who has ever had to do any public speaking knows the terror that can put in a person- in the pit of their stomach, on the sweaty surface of their hands, on their dry tongue. To have to make public addresses to enormous crowds who may assume your superiority when you cannot say whole sentences in front of your family without stammering- to have to do that and to turn up and try, well that is where the story of the King's Speech begins.

The film is about trying, about courage, about people from different backgrounds working together; about leaving your pre-conceived ideas at the door. More widely it's about Britain and the Commonwealth before the second world war, about emigrating to the UK then, about life changing course, about having to let some dreams go; it's not a twee film as you might imagine- in fact the stories told are extremely moving.

A word on the acting- which is sublime throughout, in fact so good you don't really notice it- everyone is pitch perfect.

I came away from the King's Speech with enormous admiration for King George VI the man (and the King)- and for Lionel Logue- whose fascinating story remained untold until now. Both were wonderful men for extraordinary times- if you are unsure just go and see this film, you will leave with a happy heart.

Poster image from


Lizzie said...

Oh, I am so looking forward to seeing this film - since it was advertised, and even more so after your lovely review!

Linda said...

Thank you so much for this review! I am definitely going to see this (I like films set in the first half of the 20th century anyway).
I read somewhere that King George V1 had a stammer because he was left handed, but forced to write with his right hand? I can identify because as an infant, my teacher tried to make me right handed, but fortunately her methods didn't work! Am I correct in thinking this?
Best wishes,

Mystica said...

Thank you for highlighting the role of Logue. He needed this.

Marie said...

I am dying to see this film, it looks amazing. And now you've made me really really really want to see it. Shall have to find the cinema!

Katy Josephine said...

Oh, thank you for the review - I will look forward to seeing it!

lady jane grey said...

Oh, I'm so looking forward to seeing it ! Rose, how is Colin F. in it ?

Marion Williams-Bennett said...

This was such a wonderful post! I think you really captured the spirit and courage of this time and this film!

I loved this film, too and just wrote about it as well. It feels rare to find such a movie - the story, the acting, the clothes.

Rose said...

Hi Bth- I hope you really enjoy it!

Hi Linda- being left handed is not specifically mentioned in the film as far as I remember but certainly a very inflexible attitude to education and children is- my Mother was left handed and had the same issue, how terrible and how strange teachers can be- I am right handed but she said she was very worried for me that I would be a leftie too after what she'd experienced- but I understand left handed people are often extremely artistic and bright so those horrid teachers are obviously just jealous

Hi Mystica- he seems to have been a remarkable man- I thought Geoffrey Rush played him beautifully

Hi Marie- oh do I think you'll love it!

Hi Jospehine- have fun

HI LJG- Colin Firth is brilliant, just the right ammount of stiff upper lip and stammering without it being comedic, pitch perfect

Hi Marion- I'm really glad you enjoyed the review- and the film! He was a wonderful King, whatever you think about that office he executed it to the absolute best of his ability and I think was a great figurehead for people who needed someone to look to at that time.

Metropolitan Mum said...

How on earth did I forget about this one? I remember making a mental note when I saw the trailer. I really, really want to see it now! xx

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I am totally besotted with this film. Wrote about it on my blog, too. It's pitch perfect.

Emily said...

It really is an amzing and compelling story. I loved it. I hope they both win an Oscar. How wonderful is he???!!! And Colin Firth always pays these vulnerable characters, which makes him appear so much more real! Great review, Rose! x LZ

Rose said...

Hi MM- go! you'll like it- although there is a lot out at the moment, I find the oscar season thing a bit maddening actually, so much to see all at once and then not enough the rest of the year sometimes

Hi Pamela- I have come and read your review which was just right- really glad you appreciated the film as much as I did.

Hi Emily- yes Colin Firth is a great actor and I think he was a bit under appreciated before Tom Ford cast him in a Single Man when in fact he's always been brilliant and just appearing in more light weight stuff