THE KING'S SPEECH is a justly famous movie that dug in and played to wide audiences, then won an Oscar (as did actor Colin Firth as the title character, the duke who became George VI), then ran in movie houses some more and now is going great guns on DVD. And rightly so. THE KING'S SPEECH: THE SHOOTING SCRIPT helps us show how great performances on screen were the response to great words on the script. This screenplay was not an easy one to write: it involved many years, on and off, on screenwriter David Seidler's part, also a biographical book by the speech trainer's grandson, which itself couldn't be released until King George's widow, the celebrated and famed Queen Mother, had lived her life. The results are happily apparent.
Here is a solid opportunity (without having to take dictation from the home screen!) to see how much complexity and craft there is behind this innocent-appearing "prestige movie" about how Queen Elizabeth II's father conquered -- or held at bay -- a paralyzing stammer that made public discourse almost impossible in the new age of radio and would likely have doomed his tenure after his brother, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne to marry "the woman I love" (Baltimore divorcee Wallis Simpson). Screenwriter David Seidler has to squeeze into a slightly less than two-hour screenplay the historical background of interwar England and the rise of radio in the home; the psychological political dynamics within the House of Windsor, the nurturing role the Queen Mum (King George VI's wife) played -- and all of this leads to the central conflict, the reluctance of the King (Colin Firth) to embrace the unorthodox training methods offered by his speech teacher Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Once we get below the memorable and stirring dialogue in this literate and ultimately uplifting movie, we can appreciate the solid proportion of "good ole" Hollywood craft at work: this is not just a "dialogue movie" but one in which the camera tells a good deal of the story. When the dialogue does get going, all but the climactic scenes are a dream of efficiency of character delineation and exposition, and the climactic "battle" scenes between King and Commoner, and between King and BBC radio microphone, are just marvelous. There may have been a couple of historical liberties taken to arrive at this already-classic screenplay, but who cares? It's well worth having this screenplay, not only for the words themselves but for the camera directions contained therein, and also the color photography and the 19-page introduction penned by scenarist Seidler.
This effort is just one of about 40 in the Newmarket Shooting Script(R) Series, which also includes such critical and popular gems as AMERICAN BEAUTY, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, THE HURT LOCKER and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. About the only possible criticism I can offer is that this is a fairly modest paperbound book of about 140 printed pages; the sprocket holes on the book's cover are there to render just that -- sprocket holes as a signifier of film -- and not a reproduction of spiral binding, which this book lacks. Nonetheless a nearly ideal read, a great work to own and a decent price from this seller. Highly recommended.