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The King’s Speech

2011/02/04

Marvelous!  (As requested by my daughter, I shall purchase a copy for the library.)

(Warning: If you’re looking for a superbly written review, complete with style and historical context, please read Conrad Black’s article in the New York Sun.)

The King’s Speech left this viewer feeling uplifted.  Colin Firth plays an incredibly difficult role: At once a genuinely proud man, yet vulnerable;  A man struggling with weakness yet possessing depth of courage.  A monarch with full sense of place having the intelligence to understand, too, humility in it’s proper place.  Brilliantly done!

Colin Firth as George VI in 'The King's Speech', 2010

Geoffrey Rush became Lionel Logue, an Australian-born veteran with a gift for helping those with speech difficulties.  Rush complements Firth’s role perfectly:  Geoffrey’s relaxed sense of humor comes through most genuinely as his character must deal with the simultaneous fear and pride of assisting a member of England’s Royalty.  He is a self-made man without credentials yet perhaps that flaw is what drives him to over-achieve in his field.

Michael Gambon as George V – a brief but powerful, memorable role – stepped seamlessly into George V’s shoes as father and King.

. . .

Allow us to get bad news out of the way here:
Bellatrix Lestrange’s portrait of Elizabeth (the future Queen Mum) would have better suited the stage.  The camera’s intimacy and immediacy was unfortunately rather merciless.

Then there was Brother Cadfael’s cameo appearance as the Archbishop of Canterbury. (It is difficult to believe that the character was in life so… simple.)

Comic relief was supplied by Peter Pettigrew’s cruel butchering of Winston Churchill.

. . .

This story of a future King (with a flaw) who engages a flawed man (with prodigious talent) is a metaphor of Britain herself in the Dark Times.  Britain faced certain war and quite possibly annihilation as an independent nation.  Through it all, and with help from her allies and commonwealth, she rose to the occasion, victorious.  The story doesn’t at all deal with the intrigue and subterfuge beneath Edward VIII’s mésalliance with Wallis Warfield Simpson. Even this error in the Royal family is overcome with the dignity of its new, initially reluctant king.

To this reviewer, The King’s Speech is a call to the present; a call to the subjects of Britain and to the West as a civilization to face our weaknesses and to deal courageously with very real, emerging threats. If we fail to overcome our fear of speaking we will submit. Gird your loins… We must all of us become Lionel Logue.

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