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September 26, 2022

The King's Speech: Talk About A Movie!

By Bernie and Sand Pilarski

Bernie said:

The things I don't know about Hollywood and film making could, if written down and published, fill the shelves of the Des Moines Public Library ... all six branches. In fact, it has been suggested that indeed I know nothing about any of the information that is already contained in the Des Moines Public Library collection. For example, I didn't know that King George VI of England was a stutterer, and that he tried lots of different things to overcome it, and finally his wife hooked him up with this Australian guy named Lionel Logue who was not a doctor and who employed unconventional (for the times, and maybe for now, again one of those things I don't know) means to address the stuttering, means that he developed in Australia treating the wounded WWI vets, and did such a good job that he (Lionel) and the King (George) became fast friends for the rest of their lives.

Of course, what with me growing up in America, I might be excused for not knowing that. It was not one of the questions they asked me in school. I took more of a vocational curriculum, the one where we were taught the answers to the question that our future employers would most often ask of us: "What the hell are you doing?" We were given points for how quickly we could come up with an answer and for creativity.

The other thing I don't know is how I could be in a movie theater to watch as fine a movie as The King's Speech and be one of only six people in the theater. That there were only five other people may explain why The King's Speech made a whopping $355,000 on opening night and $32 million after six weeks in the theaters. Avatar had better numbers from just the sale of Raisinets. It may also explain why our youth are vying for careers in Raisinet sales at the multiplex.

There is no reason a film this good should not have full houses at every showing. It is a terrifically told story, filled with intelligent humor and poignant drama, artfully presented, and fabulously acted. Colin Firth as King George and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel give performances that critics are suggesting will be Oscar winners for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Helena Bonham Carter also gives a wonderful performance as Edward's queen, although I don't think there was a weighty enough role here to put her in Oscar contention. Then again, I could watch Ms. Carter pull fleas off a dog and be perfectly enthralled.

And why, I have to ask, is this film rated R? The obvious answer is that there is a use of the F-word. That's it. In context, it is almost innocuous, no more shocking than saying "bum." Call me a libertine, but this is a movie that I would have no problem having an eight-year-old watch in the company of an adult. I'm sure if there was a good disemboweling or at least a little adultery that could have been thrown in to distract from the language a PG-13 rating could have been considered.

So, is it that people just don't know The King's Speech is out there? Or is it that the makers of this film are really very, very good at every aspect of movie making except marketing? I really don't know the answer to this. But I do know that if you want to go to the movies and be highly entertained by an excellent movie, you will not be disappointed with this one. And do expect The King's Speech to figure prominently at the Oscar's.

Sand said:

I had read snippets of news that said that The King's Speech was good, really good, but I didn't know much about the premise, just that there was a king in it, and he must have had a speech. I expected a historical drama, and that was a good enough excuse to escape the foggy Valley air and sit in a climate-controlled theater for a couple hours.

Bernie has done his usual brilliant job of synopsizing the story, so I don't have to. Nor do I have to admit that I was just as ignorant as he of the story this movie portrays. However, one of the HUGE aspects that drew me in to the drama was that much of it takes place in that horrible time when Hitler was making his rise to power, when governments eyed him suspiciously, but had no real excuse -- or power -- to stop the war and madness inexorably coming to their shores until it was too late. The growing threat provides a framework like dire music in the background, against which all the figures had to play their part.

All right, I will talk about the story a bit, after all. Second son of George the Fifth, Albert was never expected to have much more than a minimum of public appearance. His older brother David was the one who was to be king after their father's death. Albert was something of an embarrassment due to his speech impediment, so he went about in the background, doing his duty, serving in the military, marrying a reasonable woman, producing two daughters whom he loved.

George the Fifth dies, David is now King Edward the Eighth, and King Edward promptly flakes and flees to the arms of Mrs. Wallis Simpson, not giving much of a damn what that would do to England, let alone his brother. Albert must become the King, somehow, and he -- because of the state of the world -- has no leisure to a laughing stock because of his stutter.

Wow, the acting in this movie was stunning. Colin Firth moves the story along, flawlessly going from hapless "Oh, I stutter, damn it, just leave me alone to be a foolish mess" to the man who sees the oncoming responsibility, fears it, hates it, but steps up to take his place no matter how much pain it causes him. This was the story of a man who could have destroyed the British monarchy and thrown the country into turmoil at a time in history that it needed to be strong.

Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue -- I loved watching the emotions play across his face. His version of Logue was cocky, though polite; he had seen the faces and hearts of shell-shocked veterans of a hideous war and no student or client could faze him in light of that.

Helena Bonham Carter surprised me. She has freaked me out ever since she played in Branagh's Frankenstein, so I was impressed at how richly and tenderly she could elevate her supporting role.

Most of all, I was thoroughly impressed with how this movie was an absolute feast for the eyes. Color, texture, lighting, makeup, camera -- I loved it from start to finish.

Highly recommended by us both.

Article © Bernie and Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-01-17
3 Reader Comments
07:55:05 PM
I'm proud to say that, when I saw the movie in Des Moines, the house was about 3/4 full. Of course, it was a holiday, and the libraries were closed.
02:18:39 AM

Of course it is a brilliant film. It is, when all is said and done, an English film: with a predominantly English cast. Even the Aussie was originally from British stock: although of course his forebears had long been dispatched to the Antipodean penal colony. ;)

Bernie, I totally agree with you about Miss Bonham Carter. Absolutely delicious !

Sand, were you to suggest - in England - that Albert (George VI)had married a mere "reasonable woman" (Elizabeth), you would certainly be hung, drawn and quartered: and quite rightly so ! :(

You also refer, very briefly, to David the then Prince of Wales (Edward VIII), but do not report that he was forced to abdicate because he insisted upon marrying an American divorcee. (I believe that the great English unwashed masses could have learned to live with the divorce thing, but the fact that Wallis was American was, obviously, the straw that broke the camel's back !) :)

But I agree with you both.

A truly amazing 'movie'.

05:39:51 PM
You've convinced me to see it. Sounds great.
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