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The Madness Of King George [DVD]

Nigel Hawthorne , Helen Mirren , Nicholas Hytner    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
Price: £5.51 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren, Ian Holm, Rupert Graves, Amanda Donohoe
  • Directors: Nicholas Hytner
  • Writers: Alan Bennett
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Channel 4
  • DVD Release Date: 17 Sep 2007
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000S399EC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,460 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Directed by Nicholas Hytner, the multi award-winning The Madness Of King George, depicts the King of England's regression into madness during the late 18th century. Although King George III does some very odd things, who could possibly argue with England's most powerful man? Starring Nigel Hawthorn as King George, Helen Mirren as Queen Charlotte, and Ian Holm as Dr. Willis.


More wit than wisdom? More style than substance? Both these charges have been levelled at The Madness of King George, but neither are entirely fair. It could be that the notional subject matter--the psychological collapse of George III, later attributed to the neurological disease porphyria--implies a profound, analytical approach of the kind associated with Oliver Sachs. However, as the screenplay was written by Alan Bennett, based upon his stage play The Madness of George III, what we have here is a typically shrewd, elegant and poignant depiction of how the world seems when viewed by someone who sees things in their own unique way. And as it is by Bennett, who allows himself a brief, bumbling cameo appearance, the dialogue is of course scalpel-sharp throughout and often extremely moving.

The historical accuracy is strong on detail, but there's an element of artistic license, such as the depiction of HRH's apparent partial recovery at the close of the film (although the scene itself, in which Hawthorne's befuddled monarch rallies himself to address his subjects, is a joy). In the end, though, we really don't mind.

On the DVD: the widescreen DVD extras include the theatrical trailer, a featurette and a lucid commentary by director Nicholas Hytner. --Roger Thomas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
"Playwright Alan Bennett, who adapted his own stage work, takes as his inspiration a time when George III -- the George who lost the North American colonies -- appears to have also lost his mind. What happens, Bennett asks, when a man can no longer project the power required of a ruler? And in its absence, what fills the psychological space where power used to reside." Lisa Schwarzbaum

Nigel Hawthorne spares no facial grimace nor utterance as he portrays King George III who loses his mind but finally finds his grieving heart. A must see performance and one that had me cheering him on. Helen Mirren as the Queen or better known as Mrs King to her George III, plays an amazing Queen. Mother of 15 children, though we only meet five or six of them, is finely clad and dressed. Amanda Donohue plays her staid lady in waiting. And Rupert Everett as the elder son George, an arrogant and immature man with a wig that portrays his ridiculousness quite keenly. The entire cast is well done.

Peter Travers tells us that "Experts say the king suffered from porphyria, a metabolic imbalance whose symptoms resemble madness'. When the traditional medical care does not work, the Queen and her lady bring in a non-traditional physician, played by Ian Holm who produces a repetitive act of "tying the kangaroo down" so to speak and the King recovers. It is during a reading of King Lear that King George seems to put the pieces back together and he once again comes to his senses. Off to save the day.

The entire family returns to court and all dressed in blue and red, the family walks up the stairs, Queen Charlotte says: "Come on, smile and wave. That's what you get paid for. Smile and wave." A wonderful, parody.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What What? 22 Dec 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
I was thrilled when Nigel Hawthorne was nominated for the Best Actor oscar for his performance as George III in this film, not only because this was a stunning performance, but because of his history on the stage (which I was privileged to attend often in London) and with BBC productions. Sir Nigel (as he is now fashioned) is perhaps best known by television audiences as Sir Humphrey Appleby, the scheming civil service mandarin from the Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister series. I have admired him for years (and most recently got to see his great performance of Lear in London).
This film also starred such British acting heavy-weights as Helen Mirren as the queen (think of the Prime Suspect series on the BBC/PBS Mystery, among others), Ian Holm as the physician (most recently noted for his performance of Lear, now available on video), and Rupert Everett as the chomping-at-the-bit Prince of Wales.
The drama was intensified by collapsing or conflating actual historical events (alas, the play and movie would have one think that good king George actually recovered his wits and ruled; the truth is more sad, that he had recurring bouts of delirium and hysteria until finally succumbing to a dementia that lasted for years, and thus the Regency was established).
Poor George has gotten a 'bum rap' in America for being the 'tyrant' against whom the colonials rebelled; history shows, however, that far from the being the evil dictator, he was in fact perhaps the kindest and most enlightened monarch in Europe at the time, well loved by the people, and concerned for government more than his own pleasure. Artistic, well humoured and well mannered, George was perhaps the last monarch in Europe who should have been so tarred by the negative history with which he has been saddled.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LONG LIVE THE KING!!! 1 Jan 2003
Format:VHS Tape
This is a marvelous period piece that deals with an intriguing subject: the apparently intermittent madness of King George III. Nigel Hawthorne brilliantly plays the role of the King, creating a benevolent personage, a sort of aristocratic populist, who is, at heart, a family man. Yet, he understands, all too well, his role as King. His Queen, a loving and caring wife, is played to perfection by Helen Mirren. Rupert Everett wonderfully plays the part of their eldest son, the indolent Prince of Wales.
The King begins his strange journey along the highway of dementia by shouting obscenities and behaving in a shockingly unseemly fashion towards his Queen's gorgeous lady-in-waiting, Lady Pembroke, played to ice maiden perfection by the always stunning Amanda Donohoe. He undergoes a total personality change. His doctor is mystified by these mental, as well as physical changes, which are broken up by moments of lucidity.
The Prince of Wales see this weakness in his father as an opportunity for him to make a bid for control of the crown, and he rallies a slew of supporters. The ensuing palace intrigues depict the gamesmanship in which the King's supporters involve themselves in order for the King not to lose his crown in addition to his wits. The only question is whether the King will succeed in recovering his wits in a timely enough fashion in order for them to prevail.
This is a wonderful film with a first class supporting cast. The production values and cinematography are also first rate, and the film won an Oscar in 1994 for its art direction. The film also addresses an issue which did, in fact, arise during the reign of King George III. It is now believed that the King may have suffered from a hereditary illness of the nervous system known as Porphyria. In any case, this is a brilliant, award calibre film that lovers of historical dramas and period pieces will, no doubt, enjoy.
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