Christmas came early for me this year! I've been waiting with anticipation to see The King's Speech and out of the blue, I was graciously sent courtesy tickets from Alliance Films, the Canadian distributor for the film. (Thank you Julia!) As I stood in line at the theatre, I could hear the person behind me suggest that the audience was made up of either historians, monarchists or speech pathologists, and as it turned out -members of the British High Commission as well!
Considering that I've been tracking this film since the cast was first announced and gobbling up all the information that I could find along the way, I worried that it just might not meet my expectations. After all, I'd seen so many clips, I worried that all the "best bits" were shown already (as has happened with some films in the past). Well, I needn't have worried. As I write this, I still have a feeling of breathlessness after just returning from an absolutely wonderful cinematic experience! I think I held my breath through much of the film since I was so captivated.
I've always had a fascination with the British monarchy and especially for film adaptations about royalty, being a period drama fanatic. I'm not certain how audiences will respond to this film if they're not already familiar with King Edward's abdication and that period in history but I'd like to think that above all, this film will be enjoyed for its inspiring tale of the friendship forged between the two men. Although they are considered unequals by society, Lionel Logue, the Australian speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) contradicts convention to conquer the brave facade and the deep-seated insecurities of "Bertie", the Duke of York (Colin Firth).
Through his unorthodox approach, Logue not only helps Bertie in a way that previous speech therapists had failed him but the king-to-be learns that "he has a voice" that matches his inner strength. The insecure prince who was content to have his brother rule Great Britain, has to grapple with his worst fears in order to step into the role of the head of the British monarchy when his brother abdicates the throne. It was wonderful to learn the lesser known details of that historic time and how an Australian 'quack' would turn out to be one of his greatest advocates and eventually his lifelong friend.
Besides the serious moments depicted of this pivotal time in history (King Edward's abdication and Britain's impending war against Hitler), the movie is filled with humour and wit! The banter between Firth and Rush was every bit as fun to watch as I'd hoped it would be.
Helena Bonham Carter is delightful as Queen Elizabeth, the ever-supportive wife of Bertie and appearances by Jennifer Ehle and David Bamber (both in 1995's Pride & Prejudice) are an added bonus!
The scenes with Bertie and his daughters Margaret and Elizabeth (the current reigning monarch) were also highlights for me. I'm curious to find out if the scene with Bertie's 'penguin' bedtime story occurred in real life but regardless, it gives us an idea of the doting father that he was believed to be.
The King's Speech is a film that truly inspires and speaks to our human condition no matter who we are - prince or pauper (or in this case - an unexpected king and his Australian speech therapist).
Read more about King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
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