Movie Review: The King’s Speech

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Photo: The Weinstein Company, Laurie Sparham

The King’s Speech, which is currently playing in English at Cinema Clap in Ste. Foy is certainly deserving of the praise that has been lavished on it.

The movie opens with the Duke of York, second son of King George V, attempting to give a public speech in 1924. The Prince fails miserably in his effort to deliver the speech. The audience, as well as those listening to the live radio broadcast, is left feeling ill at ease and sorry for the poor man. The movie ends with King George VI giving an inspirational and well-delivered address to his subjects throughout the world on the eve of World War II. The film, nominated for 12 Oscar awards, gives us a behind-the-scene account of the transformation of a stammering prince into an articulate king.

The movie, directed by Tom Hopper, offers not only an uplifting story but also great acting. Geoffrey Rush shines as a Shakespeare-loving Australian husband and father of three, now living in London, who has set up practice in the basement of a building in an unfashionable part of England’s capital.

He is convinced that he can help anyone with a speech impediment to overcome their problem as long as they are willing to follow his unorthodox methods. Colin Firth comes across as a kindly prince, good husband and father but is rather wary of anyone who promises that they can help him overcome his speech impediment. Helena Bonham Carter is delightful in her role as Queen Elizabeth, a loving and helpful spouse to a man who has to face many challenges.

The cinematography is quite remarkable. The audience gets splendid interior views of Westminster Abbey, the palaces of the duke and the king, as well as outdoor scenes of misty London.

The music chosen for the soundtrack is quiet, moving and appropriate of its era. Interestingly, it is mostly of German origin which contrasts with the negative feelings the English held against their belligerent opponents at the time.

For history buffs and observers of the Royal Family, the film reintroduces us to some of the people who played an important role in 20th century imagination: George V, Edward VII, and his wife, the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson, Winston Churchill, as well as our present queen, Queen Elizabeth II, the eldest of George VI’s two children.

Probably the most touching part of the story is the formation of a lasting, true friendship between a lonely and troubled prince/king and an ordinary citizen who happens to be an exceptional human being. It is the story of transformation brought about as the result of the efforts and bonding of two very strong characters of different social status that brings all the elements together to make this film an unforgettable work.

The King’s Speech has a lot to offer and like all great works of art, it will probably take several viewings to appreciate its multiple layers.