I originally saw The King's Speech in theatres not long before the Oscar ceremony at which the movie took home three of the top awards (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor). I was happy to be able to cheer for it on Oscar night, knowing first-hand that it was the best movie of the year. I knew then that I would own it on DVD because it is one of those movies you can enjoy multiple times.
The King's Speech, based on a true story, begins while King George V is still on the throne but is in failing health. As he is portrayed in the movie (by Michael Gambon), the King is a masterful orator and a strong leader, but a cruel and impatient father. His eldest son, David, the Prince of Wales (Guy Pearce), a man too busy living the good life to care much about his responsibilities or his country, is next in line for the throne. His younger brother, Albert, the Duke of York (Colin Firth), has had a crippling stammer since early childhood and, as a result, he has been treated as being "less than" his entire life and considered unfit for the throne.
After the crippling failure of a public speech, Albert (aka Bertie) begins seeing various speech therapists, each with crazier ideas about how to "fix" him and all to no avail. Finally, his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) finds an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) on the sly and enlists him to work with her husband. After a shaky start (Lionel insists on working with the Duke as equals, which doesn't go over well with the Royals), Bertie actually begins to have success at speaking without a stammer.
When King George V dies, David ascends to the throne as King Edward VIII, but his heart is not in it. He is in love with a married American woman and is told that he will not be permitted to marry a divorced woman and be King, so he decides to abdicate the throne at the end of 1936. This thrusts his younger brother into the role of King, which requires much public speaking. At that time, the wireless radio was new and was used to address the masses. With the help of Mr. Logue, Bertie faces this new challenge head-on and surprises everyone.
This film has a perfect blend of drama and comedy, as well as a great motivational story. There are some heart-breaking moments, but the movie never becomes tear-jerky. There are also some hilarious moments, usually in the treatment sessions between Bertie and Logue, when Logue's irreverence pushes Bertie's buttons and his odd treatment methods make for some wacky visuals. It is a joy to see these two become dear friends.
Firth is impressively believable not only in the physical manifestation of the speech defect but in portraying a man who feels helpless, trapped and embarrassed by it. Rush is both hilarious and touching as Logue in a wonderful performance that I wish had been recognized with an Oscar (he was nominated but did not win). Helena Bonham Carter brings a combination of upper class charm and surprising wit to her role as Bertie's loving wife.
There are a number of extras on the DVD, including: * A commentary with director Tom Hooper. * A documentary on the friendship between Logue and Bertie. * A Q&A with director and cast members. * Two of the film's pivotal speeches as given by the real King George VI. * The Real Lionel Logue: A family member speaks about him and the diaries and letters he left behind that were used as source material for the movie. * A website for The Stuttering Foundation, where stutterers can get help.
Highly recommended even if, like me, you aren't much of a history buff.
I love Colin Firth and had this film on my radar. The royal life is always fascinating and of course the time frame, pre-WWII was of interest, so I finally took the plunge and rented a copy. I knew it was about a stuttering monarch and had read just enough to know that he used some inventive tools to overcome his situation when required to speak publicly. I didn’t expect the movie to be so charmingly quirky though. And quirk is a hot button for me so I … more
I have been a customer reviewer on Amazon.com for well over a decade and an Amazon Vine reviewer since the program began. I enjoy writing product reviews that will help customers make a buying decision. … more
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Candidates for president and prime minister choose to run, but kings rarely have a choice. Such was the case for Prince Albert, known by family members as Bertie (Colin Firth), whose stutter made public speaking difficult. Upon the death of his father, George V (Michael Gambon, making the most of a small part), the crown went to Bertie's brother, Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), who abdicated to marry divorcée Wallis Simpson. All the while, Bertie and his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter, excellent), try to find a solution to his stammer. Nothing works until they meet Australian émigré Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a failed actor operating out of a threadbare office. He believes Bertie's problem stems from emotional rather than physiological issues, leading to a clash of wills that allows the Oscar®-winning Rush (Shine) and the Oscar-nominated Firth (A Single Man) to do some of their best work (in a neat bit of casting, Firth'sPride and Prejudicecostar, Jennifer Ehle, plays Logue's wife). All their efforts, from the tense to the comic--Bertie doesn't stutter when he swears--lead to the speech King George VI must make to the British public on the eve of World War II. At a time when his country needs him the most, he can't afford to fail. As Stephen Frears did inThe Queen, Tom Hooper (HBO'sElizabeth I) lends vulnerability to a royal figure, showing how isolating that life can be--and how much difference a no-nonsense friend ...