The King’s Speech (2010)

  • Certificate: 12A
  • Runtime : 118 minutes
  • Director: Tom Hooper

When a film receives the amount of hype surrounding The King’s Speech; nominated for 14 BAFTA awards. 12 Academy Awards and already having given leading man Colin Firth a Golden Globe for Best Actor; it’s understandable that some folk might be determined to resist the tide. Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail had a go, excoriating the film as historically inaccurate and another symptom of why Britain is going to hell in a handcart.

This time, however, the hyperbole is justified. The King’s Speech is an impressive piece of work. Colin Firth excels as a man who finds himself thrust unwillingly into a role he had never expected to fill. After his ne’er-do-well brother, David the Prince of Wales, abdicates the Throne in order to marry an American divorcee, Bertie the Duke of York becomes King George VI.

Bertie’s big problem is that to the despair of his ailing father, King George V (Michael Gambon in a cameo role) he suffers from a dreadful nervous speech impediment. He is unable to even begin to overcome this problem until he meets up with Lionel Logue, an unconventional Australian speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush).

The King’s Speech derives from the point of view of the then Duchess of York, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon who later became the Queen Mother, played here by Helena Bonham-Carter. This is fascinating as I had always been brought up with the romantic story of Edward VIII; the king who gave up everything in order to marry the woman he loved. As the Duke and Duchess of Windsor the former king and his wife Wallis Simpson always seemed to be ostracised from the rest of the Royal family who never disguised their hostility towards them. In this film, the romantic Prince of Wales comes across as a blustering bully with no sense of duty or propriety.

This is a snapshot of a class-ridden Britain that has long disappeared along with the infamous London fogs. It’s not to be missed.

David Kerr

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