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The King's Speech

A movie directed by Tom Hooper

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A Man in Need of His Voice, a Country in Need of a Leader

  • Dec 17, 2010
“The King’s Speech” is the one of the few films I know of to humanize the embarrassment of stuttering. It tells the story of Prince Albert, Duke of York, who, following the death of his father and the resignation of his older brother, became King George VI and had the unenviable task of leading England and its many colonies into World War II; although he had a voice and had plenty to say, his debilitating stammer made it virtually impossible to actually say it. Imagine what that must be like. You’re a public figure, your country is on the brink of war, and the frightened masses long for your words to comfort and guide them – but you have not yet mastered the skill of getting those words out. Your mouth gets in the way of your brain, and what’s worse, it’s at a time when it’s most inconvenient.
There’s a moment late in the film when Albert, known to his family as Bertie (Colin Firth), watches newsreel footage of Adolph Hitler addressing the Nazis: “What is he saying?” asks one of his daughters. “I don’t know,” he answers slowly and deliberately, “but ... he seems to be saying it rather well.” When the film begins, it’s 1925, and Bertie fails miserably at delivering a speech to close the British Empire Exhibition; from that, it’s easy to understand his frustration, dread, and shame, knowing he was teased as a child, knowing his nanny favored his brother, knowing his father’s inability to comprehend, knowing every single certified speech therapist in London failed to relieve him of his stutter. So then it’s understandable that he would eventually admire Hitler’s speaking voice. He was an evil man, but boy, when he spoke, his voice rang loud and clear.
Bertie’s story begins when he was still a Duke. In the mid 1930s, desperate to get her husband help, the future Queen Mother Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) happens upon Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a speech therapist and failed actor from Australia who loves performing Shakespeare in front of his family – in all likelihood because of the flowing, eloquent language. He’s not like the other speech therapists. He makes the rules. He insists that he and his clients be treated equally, which is why he addresses the Duke as Bertie rather than Your Highness. He wants to be called Lionel, not Doctor. He demands that all sessions be held not in Bertie’s estate, but in his own office, which, in its dinginess, takes on an oddly organic quality that suits his profession. He’s witty and isn’t afraid to show it, not even in front of royalty. Elizabeth, while unaccustomed to eccentric commoners, is willing to comply for the sake of her husband.
And so begins Bertie’s speech therapy, an unconventional routine of diaphragm exercises, tongue and jaw techniques, and memorization of tongue twisters. But this is not merely a clinical series of activities; over time, a friendship grows between the two, one that enables Bertie to try a little harder, even in desperate situations. When he puts on headphones and listens to music, for example, he’s able to recite a Shakespeare soliloquy without stammering. How is this possible? It’s a matter of distraction; with his attention focused away from the fact that he’s speaking, he can go from start to finish almost completely unhindered.
But how can he speak with any degree of confidence knowing the crown would soon be on his head? He never wanted to be king; he was a naval officer and a prince. Following the death of his father, George V (Michael Gambon), the next in line for the throne was his brother, Edward (Guy Pearce), but he abdicated in order to be with the woman he loved – a twice divorced American socialite named Wallis Simpson (Eve Best). Elizabeth sensed this in Edward, which is why she sought out Lionel in the first place. If her husband was to be king, and if this meant addressing the people on a regular basis, it would be necessary for him to treat his stammer and conquer his fear of public speaking. Everything leads up to the fall of 1939, at which point Bertie, as George VI, must announce over the radio that England is at war with Germany.
Firth’s portrayal is extraordinary. Watching him, we don’t see a prince or a king; we see a man who wants to be heard. We may also marvel at his ability to stutter, which isn’t at all easy to mimic convincingly. Credit also to Carter, who lends a quiet but nonetheless wonderful air of caring and sympathy to her role. On the basis of this portrayal, it’s no wonder that the Queen Mother was one of the most beloved royal figures of the last century. And as for Rush, he finds the right balance between humor and heart in his depiction of Lionel. He may crack a few too many jokes, but he is a person with feelings, and it’s clear that he cares deeply for his wife and children. “The King’s Speech” is an absorbing, touching, inspirational film, and is definitely one of the year’s best. Its only flaw is its R rating, which the MPAA deemed necessary for exactly two scenes of swearing. I don’t pretend to understand what goes into making these decisions.

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October 17, 2011
Well conveyed !
October 19, 2011
Thank you.
December 20, 2010
I skimmed through your review since I am going to see this after Christmas while I am off work Yay!!
January 03, 2011
Ok, I am back and I just saw it this afternoon. It was every bit as good as you've said. Thanks!
December 20, 2010
I'm all about historical drama! Thanks for the review, I definitely would want to watch this with my husband sometime.
January 03, 2011
I think you'll like it, Anastasia, it is perfectly acted and directed. Such an uplifting film!
More The King's Speech reviews
review by . January 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
4 ½ Stars: Everyone Has The Right To Be Heard!
Stories about friendship and courage. They are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser whose stories have been told in various different ways. It is just something that people need to be told from time to time that I doubt anyone would grow tired of it. Well, director Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech” won the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival People’s choice award and it tells about the true story of a King George VI who overcame something very significant in the face of a …
review by . April 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I was not familar with the story of George VI until I saw this amazing film. Apparently George had a terrible stuttering problem until one day his wife took him to the home of a commoner in the basement floors of a building. At first George is reluctant to give the man a chance. His father and just about everyone else had sent him to "experts' with no success. One such "expert" wanted him to smoke to "sooth the lungs" and talk with marbles in his mouth. None of these things worked.    George …
review by . May 02, 2011
"I've been terribly busy."   "Doing what?"   "Kinging."      The King's Speech, a man at battle with himself a very unlikable man at that. Perhaps sympathy for one of the luckiest men to walk our mortal Earth is at times absent, yet The King's Speech manages to humanise one of closest things to a living God. Yes, you either love, or hate the reigning powers of the British Royals, but how satisfying it is to see one …
review by . January 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
There is a pivotal moment in the King's Speech that just speaks volumes about what the movie is about and what it means.  It's a scene where Bertie (also known as a King George VI)I--a man with a stammering problem--is standing there with Lionel, his speech therapist, and Lionel puts a headset on him and plays music and instructs Bertie to read a passage out of Hamlet.  While the music is playing you can't hear him, he can't even hear himself.  Lionel records it for …
review by . January 30, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A King's birthright
It was a little slow at the beginning but the movie picks up lots of momentum towards the end. The true story of a royalty's speech impediment. Had he been just another prince, then it's no big deal. But the moment that his brother abdicated the throne and he was made king, it's a major problem!      What made this movie success is not so much the story nor is it the overcoming of a handicap. True, they are part of what make a story. However, I believe it is the acting …
review by . January 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Don't miss this movie just because its not gotten a wide release.  Here in Raleigh, NC, it isn't playing at any of the multi-screen multiplexes, which actually gives you a great excuse to see a movie in an old-fashioned single-screen movie house like the Rialto in Raleigh (an excellent movie-going experience in itself).      And what a movie this is.  It is certain to get nominations for best movie, actor, and supporting actor.  While I think the movie …
review by . December 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The British monarchy tale "The King's Speech" led Golden Globe contenders Tuesday with seven nominations, including best drama and acting honours for Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush.Other best-drama nominees were the psychosexual dance thriller "Black Swan," the boxing saga "The Fighter," the sci-fi blockbuster "Inception" and the Facebook chronicle "The Social Network." Nominees in the Globes' other best-picture category, …
review by . February 01, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     There are few stories without an enemy; and few films without a flaw. Yes, history has proved me somewhat wrong and there are indeed MANY great, flawless films, but seldom do they come along each weekend. So when they do come along, there is reason to celebrate. "The King's Speech" is an absolutely fantastic portrait of the Duke of York, who was King George V's son. If there is a villain in this very story, it is the flaws of the Duke/Albert. He is to become …
review by . January 01, 2011
I can enjoy fine movies with minimalist acting. Where the actors spend a lot of time saying nothing, but looking very serious, or hurt, or angry or whatever. The kind of the thing that lots of young American actors like to do these days. Where emotions are bottled up. This can be very effective.     But sometimes, you just want to have a good, old-fashioned wallow in the kind of meaty, no-holds barred acting that, frankly, the British do best. And the best, most satisfying example …
review by . January 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Speech impediments are a horrible thing to deal with, I’d imagine. And I’d imagine they are far, far worse if you’re the titular leader of 1/4 of the world. That’s the situation faced by King George VI in The King’s Speech. George VI (Colin Firth), called “Bertie” through most of the film, was never meant to be king. His brother, David, was the one who was meant to be king, but no one, including his father, seemed to feel he was up to the …
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Chris Pandolfi ()
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Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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About this movie


The King's Speech is a British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper from a script by David Seidler. The movie won the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award.

The film stars Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as speech therapist Lionel Logue, who helped George VI overcome a stammer. Filming commenced in the United Kingdom in November 2009. The film is set for a limited release in the United States on 26 November 2010

The British monarchy tale "The King's Speech" led Golden Globe contenders Tuesday with seven nominations, including best drama and acting honours for Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush.Other best-drama nominees were the psychosexual dance thriller "Black Swan," the boxing saga "The Fighter," the sci-fi blockbuster "Inception" and the Facebook chronicle "The Social Network."
Nominees in the Globes' other best-picture category, for musical or comedy, are the Lewis Carroll fantasy "Alice in Wonderland," the song-and-dance extravaganza "Burlesque," the lesbian-family tale "The Kids Are All Right," the action tale "Red" and the romantic thriller "The Tourist."
"The Social Network" and "The Fighter" tied for second with six nominations each. Among nominations for ...

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Director: Tom Hooper
Genre: Drama, History
Release Date: 24 December 2010 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: David Seidler
DVD Release Date: April 19, 2011
Runtime: 118 min
Studio: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment
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Best Picture Nominees 2011


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