Saturday, February 26, 2011

The King's Speech

Whether the King’s Speech wins the Oscar tonight or not, it is a remarkable film.  

Colin Frith, who plays Prince Albert, was thrust into the role as King George the VIth when his father dies.  Albert has struggled throughout his life with a severe stammer.  Watching him attempt to address the opening of the Commonwealth Games in 1925 is extremely painful and brings tears to your eyes.  One can’t help share his sense of humiliation.  

Prince Albert’s wife Elizbeth, played by Helena Bonham Carter (you may have seen her in A Room with a Viewfinds an unorthodox Australian speech therapist,  Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, to help overcome Bertie's stammer, with no one, even Lionel's family, aware that the King is receiving speech therapy.  Lionel and Bertie's relationship is often strained as Lionel believes it is necessary for the two to be equals during their therapy sessions, with Lionel calling him Bertie instead of your royal highness, which ruffles the king's feathers, since he is not accustomed to such informality with a commoner. 

Lionel is strikingly perceptive, recognizing the anger and humiliation associated with the King’s speech challenge, and helping him overcome it by shouting profanity at times of greatest frustration, which the King does with gusto, to great humorous effect. In time Lionel become Bertie's friend, as Lionel attempts to uncover the psychological issues behind the speech impediment.  

Anyone who has ever feared addressing a problem in their life (who hasn't?) will empathize with the King’s dilemma, and every therapist or helping professional who has assisted a client or patient in overcoming such a challenge will love the film.  The culmination of the film occurs when it is necessary for the King to address the nation on radio announcing that England has declared war on Germany in 1939, which he does nearly flawlessly.   Lionel is in the broadcasting booth giving the King encouragement. Everyone feels like cheering for the young King.  It is a very moving film and the acting by all three main characters is wonderful.

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