Friday, January 7, 2011

The King's Speech


The King’s Speech

They give breath to the pages of history, they wander the fictional world. Within their numbers stands a shepherd boy who rose to slay a giant armed with nothing save a slingshot. A young man who firmly stared down a tank in the heat of Tiananmen Square. From Jacqueline Kennedy, who, on the blackest day of her life, controlled the blind wrath of a grieving nation with her exquisite dignity and strength, to the dozens of firemen who ran up the towers when the rest of the world ran down. They are celebrated in literature - think of Atticus Finch, or Charlotte, the grey spider, or perhaps the tiny hobbit, Frodo, who volunteered to go to all the way to the hell of Mordor though, “he did not know the way”. They are the heroes, the ones who accept the impossible challenge, not for glory nor renown, but because it is the right thing to do, because it has to be done. There are more of them than we realize, invisible and unsung, scaling incredible mountains, overcoming the most vicious odds.

I confess I knew more about his infamous brother than I knew about King George VI. Oh, I knew he was the father of the current Queen Elizabeth, the husband of the much-loved Queen Mother, and that his own mother, Queen Mary, wore an inordinate amount of long, wide-reaching pearls, as well as a rather sour expression, in most of her photographs. I knew that he and his wife braved the London blitz with admirable bravery. And perhaps I had heard that he once had a stammer, though I’d never given the matter great thought. But thanks to the genius of the actor, Colin Firth, I now see the former King in a much different light.

Accolades are swarming like honeybees around the new film, The King’s Speech, as well they should be. A near perfect film, its material is taken from the diaries of Lionel Logue, the unconventional speech therapist who treated the King for many years, assisting in his ability to rise above his debilitating stammer and lead his nation through a monstrous war. Bertie, as the King was known, was never meant to be King. Never wanted to be King. But when his elder brother threw off the mantle of duty like an itchy wool coat, Bertie, who couldn’t utter a sentence in public without acute embarrassment, became King. And not only a King, but a King in a time of war. Imagine being a man with a stammer and having to compete on the international stage with raging orators like Mussolini and Hitler. Imagine a country holding on to your every word, for comfort and guidance in a horrible time, and you are unable to trust your own voice. I wonder if I would have run far far away, changed my name, my appearance, and hid for the rest of my natural born days. It is a weighty testament to the man’s integrity and strength of character that he did not.

I highly recommend The King’s Speech for those of you who wish for something more than eye candy from a movie going experience. There are no car chases, no blue aliens, and not a teenage vampire in sight, but you shall leave with ideas to ponder, history to discuss, and a great man to admire. Go see it and tell me if you don’t agree.
Oh, and Helena Bonham-Carter is a revelation in this performance! Just wonderful. And the peeling plaster walls of Mr. Logue’s offices! Perfectly sublime. How I would love to get my greedy little hands on those rooms!!


44 comments:

  1. I have to say I can't wait for this to arrive in our little town.
    I haven't been to see a film in nearly three years but I will be there for this on day one...and it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Colin Firth is playing the King!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have always admired King George V's fortitude when the throne was thrust upon him.
    What I have seen of the trailers, I am longing to see it too. Unfortunately I will have to wait until it is on TV or video since the low frequency decibels besetting me from every corner, I go into heart failure. Very unpleasant and debilitating, so I shall just have to be patient.

    Blessings . . .Arija

    ReplyDelete
  3. I can't wait to see it, unfortunately the film has not yet reached the wilds of NW Montana. I love the cast and hope that it garners some Oscar nominations. Interesting to think that their "high tech" was the radio and here was this fellow with a stutter..what could have been worse and yet he manages to overcome this. I'm certainly not a total lover of all members of the Royal Family but I do admire the fact that these guys stayed put in London at Buckingham Palace throughout World War 2 - this sent a really powerful message.

    ReplyDelete
  4. A courageous man, and much loved and admired for his bravery.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Can't wait to see that, the casting is perfection

    Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  6. i can't wait to see it... i have no hankering for the car chase or action packed drama, although a good murder/mystery doesn't go astray..this looks intriguing, so i'll take your word that its a must see...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Looks great...once again you have enlightened me. I see the King looked a lot like his brother that stepped down.
    I love Colin Firth and look forward to seeing this now.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am going to see this movie this coming weekend. I cannot wait!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I haven't heard about this film but will certainly look out for it. King George VI was a brave man, he suffered not only from a severe speech impediment but was also incredibly shy. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was the one who found Lionel Logue and then helped and encouraged Bertie to conquer his stammer. It should be a film worth seeing.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a klovely post.Almost every forty or fifty something Brit will have heard their parents or grandparents talk about the Kings New Year speech in the darkest days of the war. A time when the country stood alone. Everyone agonizing around the radio set and wondering if he would get through the ordeal. Given in that halting , painful delivery the words

    'I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
    Give me a light that I might tread safely into the unknown
    And he replied
    Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
    That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way'.

    Words for the times. One of those shared national moments from a more deferential age - too heartfelt and painful even now to parody.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am looking forward to seeing this movie. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you. I look forward to experiencing the film.

    ReplyDelete
  13. We loved this movie as well.
    I love all your postings
    Happy New Year♥

    ReplyDelete
  14. Dear Pamela, As a person who lived thru WW11 I can tell you that this was a man of great dignity and charm. He was head and shoulders about most of the leaders of that time. I look forward to seeing this movie altho its existence is news to me.

    ReplyDelete
  15. LOVED, loved, loved this movie. The acting was perfection; the story was riveting. And yes, no car chases, strippers, or other nonsense. Truly a new classic.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I will do as you say :)
    Thanks for the tip !

    xo
    Anci

    ReplyDelete
  17. I can't waait to see this film. I saw a cheaper version on television a couple of years ago and it was really good so this will be even better.
    I think that it made it so much worse for him as he wasn't even meant to be King. I know that you will love it Pamela. XXXX

    ReplyDelete
  18. It was a fabulous movie...and now I'm in love with Colin Firth!
    Judith

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm really looking forward to this one, thanks for recommending
    Sharon

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am so excited to see this one! From the clips I've seen Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter are brilliant. So well cast...Now I just need a babysitter!! I loved what you wrote about heroes. So true.

    H.H.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh I am so looking forward to this film. Thank you so very much for a grand review.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Can't wait to see this! So many of my favorite actors all in one historical film.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Naturally I cried! Such a wonderful movie, and a perfect cast - Colin and Helena of course - and Geoffrey Rush was marvelous as Lionel Logue!

    Bertie, a very brave prince whom, without the support of the most fabulous woman, would perhaps never had made such a great king. It was sad knowing that his childhood was so scarred by adults in whose care he was left. It was amazing to think that just such a short time ago the British monarchy was so still so archaic.

    You may recall from posts I've shared that my mother was apprenticed to a royal dressmaker in London in the 1930's. She actually made clothes for the then Princess Elizabeth who became Queen and then the beloved Queen Mother.

    Thank you Pamela for your excellent review. Tonight at the cinema will be memorable for both Bob and I - we loved every minute.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have seen this Pamela and loved every minute of it. As you have mentioned, there are many quiet achievers and everyday heroes. People's heroism in dealing with what life throws at them astounds me at times.Queen Elizabth, the Queen Mother had such a firm but gentle resolve to help her husband.A wonderful film.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Colin Firth is reported as saying how much he looked forward to turning fifty because that's when faces have more character. He is certainly a fine choice for this portrayal.

    ReplyDelete
  26. The film is here now in our fair city and with the encouragment of a very dear friend, I am going to go! I love anything that has a period piece flavor to it and your post today set it in stone for me. My friend also suggested my son, who is 14, would love it as well. That may take a bit more encouraging ;)

    Dianna

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am really looking forward to seeing it, particularly as I just about remember the abdication and remember GeorgeVI very well indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Saw it with Alberto last night!
    it was outstanding, from the inspiring story to the incredible acting to the set and costume design.
    I die for the room Mr. Lougue first saw "Bertie" in.
    xo xo

    ReplyDelete
  29. I've been desperate to see this movie...I'll have to check (again) and see if it's in town. I'm so looking forward to experiencing an emotionally and visually well rounded film! (still haven't seen the blue guys yet!)

    Wonderful narrative Pamela...
    xo J~

    ReplyDelete
  30. If you ever get to Glamis Castle be sure to see the walled garden with its stunning iron gate.

    The Queen Mother bought it for herself as a birthday present.

    Gotta love her choice.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    ReplyDelete
  31. I'm really looking forward to seeing this film having seen interviews and trailers on television this week:)

    ReplyDelete
  32. I had never heard of this film until a trailer was shown on tv last night, and it immediately piqued my interest: historical, true, quite, unsung, and unlikely hero. Nice to see Helena Bonham-Carter without all that makeup and a crazed personality! And your give your hero fine company - real and fictional, they were all the do-gooders of life.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Much awaited by me and finally yesterday I saw the movie. It left me with an unspeakable feeling of being moved and elated, yet again horrified by the terrors of war, that war which changed so much, left so much sorrow and unimaginable hardship in it's wake. The king's ability to rise above his impediment and his mental and emotionally difficulties due to his rather cruel upbringing made me aware again of how it is possible to overcome shear overwhelming hurdles. This rather lonely man found a friend under the most unlikely circumstances and he kept his nation sane in times, when they needed it the most!
    To believe finally in ones own strength and see it succeeding is a wonderfully uplifting thing.
    Colin Firth plays the role Oscar worthy and the emotional range in his face and acting was astounding. Likewise his speech therapist gave a incredible performance.
    At times I had a feeling of watching a Shakespeare play!
    Helena Bonham Carter was a delight to see in this supporting role as the king's wife. Behind every successful man stands a woman....She persevered in finding the help he needed!
    What a great movie!!!
    I so agree with all you wrote!
    I am going to see it one more time...

    xx
    V.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I just checked and we are getting it next Friday, so I am grabbing my posse and heading over. I love our first paragraph. Courage is such a great aspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have heard the movie is amazing. Thanks for reminding me that I need to see it! I hope you are having a wonderful first weekend in the new year!
    Xo,
    E&J

    ReplyDelete
  36. I am really looking forward to seeing this film. And I, for one, knew not that he overcame such adversity, nor did I know as much about him as his rawther vile brother, whom many of us are relieved did not serve out his reign...

    ReplyDelete
  37. I'm an interior designer from Melbourne, Australia - I loved your blog, I found it very inspiring. This is all new to me but I have just set up my own blog
    scrapbook-melissah.blogspot.com
    You may like to check it out because I had so much fun doing it.
    Thanks for providing me with such great entertainment!
    Cheers
    Melissah

    ReplyDelete
  38. Yes, I loved this film for so many reasons.
    You have written about it mot eloquently.
    I loved the Lougue children wearing coats and scarves indoors (typical of the period).
    About the wonderful shabby-chic wall in his consulting rooms. Unless precisely documented I feel that even a poor speech therapist, if his rooms were in HARLEY STREET would have had somone in to
    distemper' the wall.
    However, it did look blissful.

    ReplyDelete
  39. We saw it last week with friends. Hubby hadn't wanted to see it when I wanted to go just with him.
    He ate crow....LOVED it!

    xx
    C

    ReplyDelete
  40. I loved this film, it was just right.

    The acting is superb all round and King George VI really was what a King should be, he turned out to have the bravery of a lion- although he wasn't a saint and isn't shown as such. I think out of respect for the Queen Mother their story was left alone during her lifetime but it is a fascinating one and a beautifully made film.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Really looking forward to seeing this. Colin Firth is an impeccable actor and was obviously a very astute choice to play Bertie. It is sad that he died relatively young but we have no complaints about his successor. She is her father's daughter.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I have, at long last, seen "The King's Speech" and it brought me to tears. I have a few hours to kill on a cold day while I was out to this and that and noticed it was showing in the town I was in, so, blissfully, bought a ticket and sat, entranced, for two hours. I know you wrote this some time ago, Pamela, but wanted you to know I appreciated your review and I loved the movie.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Splendid review, Pamela! I finally saw it this weekend and wrote about it as well. What an incredible film.

    How thrilling that it now leads the pack with 12 Oscar nominations. So deserving of every one! It really doesn't get any better than this.

    ReplyDelete

I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!