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4.6 out of 5 stars63
4.6 out of 5 stars
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HALL OF FAMEon 22 December 2005
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.
This movie gives a little insight into that character of man. Set after the war with the colonies, George begins a slow process of deterioration. Seen here are the inhumane treatments prescribed for such people (I wonder if our modern medicine with machines and contraptions will look similarly barbaric 200 years from now?).
Lavish sets and costumes accentuate the film to give a very royal feel. Political intrigue, disfunctional family dynamics, and social class consciousness all arise in differing measure to make this a truly intricate plot; however, much of the politics and psychology are more for modern audiences than are actual re-creations or representations.
My favourite scene has to be the one in which George is reciting, in the gardens at Kew, a scene from Lear, in which Lear is slipping into madness.
'Lear!? Is this wise?'
'I don't know, I'd never read it!' came the doctor's response.
To see the king slip into sanity so subtly as his performance of Lear presents a slide into insanity is a treasure.
The postscript at the end, a direct criticism of the royal family, in which the king pronounces that their main purpose is to be a model family (and the hint in the closing that the disease of porphyria, George's most-likely ailment, is hereditary) is amusing if not entirely appropriate.
In all, a fabulous film.
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"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. "Meanwhile, the arrestingly stylized imagery of the original Madness has not been lost, particularly when the royal family freezes into elaborate tableaux of hollow noblesse oblige. Any resemblance to Windsors, Kennedys, or any other royal personnel currently living is strictly not coincidental." Lisa Obliermann

This film bogged down in the first half but came to life and I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Hail To The King!

Highly Recommended. prisrob 05-04-08
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on 23 November 2009
A great film. well written and beautifully played by all. In particular it is a joy to watch the late great Nigel Hawthorne perform with such depth and range. A very different part to his well known role of Sir Humphrey Appleby and played so well that it is hard to associate the actor with his Yes Minister character when he is portraying George equally as brilliantly but so very differently. I wish Nigel had lived longer so we could have enjoyed more of his thoroughly enjoyable performances.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 November 2011
Alan Bennett adapted his own stage work to write the screenplay for this biography of King George III's later years, years of illness during which he appears to go insane for a variety of different reasons (with hindsight).

Many reviewers have written a great deal, so there is little point in repeating it here. Suffice to say the cast, made up of a stellar list of British acTORS, is excellent and Nigel Hawthorne as King George is stunning. Set in splendid settings which capture the kingship well and set in the fraught politics of the time, it is an excellent film and the DVD, which has few bonuses, is well worth the investment and far cheaper than a night at the cinema.

It has some classic lines as viewers will hear, e.g. the two courtiers discussing two of King's urine samples and the great relief when the king resumes his "What" Whating!".

PS I believe the original was entitled "The Madness of King George III" but it was altered to its current title because the producers thought the American audience would assume it was a sequel and they had missed the first two. I could not possibly comment.
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on 5 May 2012
'The Madness of King George' is a terrific example of British Cinema at it's finest.

Set in 1788 it tells the story of how King George III of England mental health deteriorated by a medical condition now known as Porphyria. During this crisis the King (Nigel Hawthorne) is unable to rule with a sound mind also the King's throne is threatened by his son the Prince of Wales (Rupert Everett). Given the fact that the primitive medical practices used by the King's Physicians are useless an ex Clergyman Dr. Willis (Ian Holm) is brought in with his unconventional methods to cure the King.

The film boasts a roster of top British acting talent in it's cast including; Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren, Rupert Everett, Ian Holm, Amanda Donohoe, Rupert Graves and Geoffrey Palmer.

With a sharp, amusing script written by Alan Bennett and top class acting 'The Madness of King George' is a deeply satisfying film experience and I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoyed 'The Kings Speech' or 'The Queen'.
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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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on 17 January 2010
What a dazzling display from Nigel Hawthorne's King George! - as he moves from imperious to vulnerable, to insane and then back again, always retaining somehow the humanity and dignity that were part of this popular monarch's appeal. Everett plays a wonderfully foppish Prince Regent tinged with evil, Helen Mirren is totally convincing as the gentle, supportive Queen Charlotte, and Ian Holm is the dogged yet caring country doctor who, with his steadying stare, helps the king to get a grip again. The settings work well (e.g. Arundel Castle as the old Windsor Castle), and Alan Bennet's script is spiced with wit and wryly observant as it explores the theme of 'being' and 'seeming' still so relevant for the royals today. In a glorious final scene, the (temporarily) recovered king waves in a show of family solidarity to the cheering crowd from the steps of St Paul's....Cue Charles and Diana...
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on 5 November 2013
A splendid, witty and absorbing period piece about the deteriorating health of King George III of England (played by Nigel Hawthorne-best known for his starring role in the Yes Minister British comedy classic) around 1788 , his strained relationship with his scheming son who can wait to be regent, the Prince of Wales and future George IV (Rupert Everett) and the political machinations around all of this , with the two main factions at odds over all this, the Whigs led by Charles Fox eager to see the Prince as regent and the Tories led by the Prime Minister William Pitt (Julian Wadham) eager for the king to make a swift recovery so he can resume ruling. his relationship with his queen (who he refers to as Mrs King and who refers to him in private as Mr King) played by Helen Mirren is also explored. King George laments his great regret at Britain;s loss of it's North American colonies several times in the film
The King, it was only later known suffered from a genetic order known as porphyria. An important message on mental illness and how it can happen to the best of us, we should all be more understanding and more accommodating, but have we really come any further in this day and age.
Best performances other Hawthorne and Everett are Ian Holm physician and the man who'se unorthodox (for the time) methods succeed in curing the king (at least temporarily) Dr Willis, and the very attractive Caroline Harker as the Prince of Wales' mistress Maria Fitzherbert.
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on 12 June 2005
This is the best blend of tradegy and comedy. Nigel Hawthorne is the backbone to this piece making us laugh but at the same time want to cry. It is intense but not exhausting for the viewer and is skillfully adapted by Alan Bennet, this is one of his best works. and it isn't just Nigel Hawthorne than will stun you there are eclectrifyiying performances from Ian Holm, Helen Mirren, Rupert Graves, Geoffrey Palmers and many more. There are lines in this that you will never forget and is a real pleasure to watch. You can't not love this film!
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on 8 March 2009
Intriguing film. Portrays the life of King George illness very well. interesting film and it is definitely worth watching.
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