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 Thefilmstage.com