on 19 November 2010
I was lucky enough to see this wonderful film at the Bath Film Festival, having dragged two friends along as well. We all agreed it is the best film we have seen for ages.
A film for adults (and a 12 year old can be an adult), no cameras tricks/ CGI/ gory scenes, a simple story of two remarkable men, one of whom just happened to become the King of England - by accident. There are inaccuracies (Churchill was not a friend of George VI until after he became PM) and some scenes which do not ring quite true - the two men arguing in the park for example - but colin Firth is simply marvellous, as is Geoffrey Rush (and indeed, all of the stellar cast).
See it and laugh with, and weep for, a man pushed into a position he did not want, with a crippling handicap to overcome, but who became in the words of many, an ordinary hero.
This film is notable for a number of reasons. Some of them are wholly predictable, other less so. So, let's start with the things one might expect. First, the quality of the cast is beyond reproach. Colin Firth is quite startlingly good as the shy, diffident and afflicted future King. Rush is avuncular and authoritative, while the supporting cast are pitch perfect. The delectable Helena Bonham-Carter puts more flesh on the young Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, and future Queen Mother, than even this high quality script might have allowed, while the brief appearance of Michael Gambon is a nice study in both Saturnine severity and pitiful confusion as George V nears his end. For me, however, the cream of the supporting cast is Guy Pearce's portrayal of the Duke of Windsor. David is shown as essentially complacent and, beneath it all, weaker than his poor, derided brother. Pearce nails the clipped frustration and the arrogant languor perfectly.
So far, so good. Where this film scores even better, however, is in the rather more playfully unpredictable script and the way the performers inhabit it. At first sight, this may appear to be nothing more than a rather dry period piece, but what stands out when you watch it is just how FUNNY it is. Yes, you heard right: funny. When I first saw this at the cinema I laughed out loud more loudly and more often than I have at many comedy films. The whole thing careers along at a lively pace, held together with this quick-witted and coruscating wit. Possibly my favourite moment of the whole film comes when Lionel Logue's wife arrives home early from playing bridge to find some rather unexpected visitors to her home. It's a beautiful little pen painting of the awkwardness of the class system of the time, and beautifully judged by all. But of course, all this wouldn't work as a comedy alone, which makes the quality of the dramatic playing all the more satisfying. Since receiving the DVD, I've watched it several times more and have not tired of the standard of the work and the little gems that each view manages to reveal
There are no real low points; this is a film that does something very rare: it manages to combine a host of already exemplary components into a pretty near perfect whole. There are no major faults at all, and very few minor ones that I can remember. It is, quite clearly, a film of a very high standards, and richly deserves the plaudits it has received.
Although it is surprising that it turned out to be one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, it's no great surprise that The King's Speech was a hit: it's a terrific audience picture. It may follow an established template - its double-act between the impaired monarch and the pomposity-puncturing commoner who treats him as much with common sense and emotional as much as mechanical therapy is basically The Mad Speech Impediment of King George with a happier ending - but the script is a perfect crowdpleaser that hits all the right emotional and comic beats and is blessed with terrific performances from an impressive cast of players who haven't always been as well cast as they might in past films. The almost trademark constipated style that often works against Colin Firth in his more conventional leading roles is absolutely perfect here while Helena Bonham-Carter, who can switch onto autopilot petulant mode in some roles, is absolutely delightful here with a wonderful sense of comic timing. Geoffrey Rush isn't exactly stretching himself here as the therapist, the part plays so well to his strengths and his own comic touch that that turns out to be an advantage while Guy Pearce makes a convincingly dismissive and occasionally vindictive Edward and Michael Gambon impresses as the ailing monarch despite his limited screen time. Only Timothy Spall's Winston Churchill seems a bit of an uninspired miscast.
Director Tom Hopper is better with actors than he is with lenses, the look of the film that uninvitingly flat and lifeless look so beloved of modern period pieces that seem to believe that the past was devoid of primary colors, but since this is a performance and script-led piece that's not the handicap it could have been. The film only really misses its footing with the climactic speech because, ironically, it doesn't trust the voice and swamps the scene with music to overegg the solemnity and magnitude of the occasion. But the film is more than enough fun to forgive it.
This is one case where you're better off getting the DVD than the UK Blu-ray: the extras are the same - audio commentary by Hooper featurette, interview with Mark Logue,, two genuine speeches by King George VI, production sketches and stills gallery and trailer - but the Blu-ray offers a poor and very unsatisfying 1080/25i transfer than has the same PAL speedup as the DVD rather than being presented at the proper 24fps speed.
on 10 May 2011
Went to watch this as it was getting a lot of Award Season Buzz.
Found that it deserves all the praise that it is getting.
For this is truly a Brilliant Movie in every department.
Story, Acting, Direction and Production Values.
The story is very engaging right from the first scene.
It is then told in a brisk pace and laced with Wonderful Humour.
The Acting is terrific. And Award nominations are sure to follow
Colin Firth is just exceptional, and in his scenes in Public with his Stammer or excruciating to watch as any horror movie.
Geoffery Rush matches him step for step as the unorthodox Therapist. Helen Bonham Carter is good in a small role.
Guy Pearce, and Timothy Spall act their parts well.
Overall a Very Entertaining True Story
on 30 January 2011
As a lifelong stammerer and of a "certian age" this film was a "must see" on two counts.
It did not dissapoint me in any respect.
Many reviewers have adequatly commentated on the film, I would like to review the film as a stammerer.
Colin Firth portrays the emotional and physical conditions of stammering perfectly, the anger, fustration, embaressment, shame, ect are well acted. The "blocks" are also accurate.
I found the film "painful" to watch at some points, but that was because I totally empathised with the King as he struggled to be fluent in his speech and I have gone through the same "struggles" myself in my life.
I would suggest that this film is shown to all young stammerers as an example on how speech dysfunction does not mean that you cannot achieve the highest office in the land.
It is good to see a stammer used in a dramatic rather than a comedic situation.
This is a "powerful" film that portrays stammering as a condition that need not be totally debilitating, but something that is part of your life and that you have to just "deal" with.
I would recommend this film to any stammerer.
on 15 May 2011
I remember when this film came out in the cinemas and the great reviews from critics and from people in general, i must admit i was skeptical as to whether the film could be so good so I decided to wait for it to be released on DVD to make my own mind up.
Well I have seen it and I have to say all the hype was rightly deserved. The film is a cinematic masterpiece and one of the finest British film offerings in years.
Excellent moving story combined with comic relief in places as well as a fantastic dynamic script and an awesome cast.
The relationship between the two main protagonist's Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue is sheer chemistry from the first time they meet.
Add to the mix an excellent supporting cast is:
Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth
Guy Pearce as King Edward III
Michael Gambon as King George V
Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill
Derek Jacobi as the Archbishop of Canterbury
The film rightly deserved the international acclaim and praises which culminated in the twelve Oscar nominations for which it won four including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
I would encourage anyone to watch this film and I promise you will enjoy it. The Kings Speech is a classic in our time.
There are plenty of films about the monarchy, but The King's Speech is less about pomp and ceremony and more about the personal story of a man who reluctantly became King. The shadow of his elder brother provided some sanctuary where the stammering knock-kneed Albert could try to hide from his affliction, but when it was clear that he would replace Edward on the throne there was no way to elude his public.
It would be easy to portray the stuttering Duke Of York as an upper-class buffoon but Colin Firth is well cast as Bertie and manages to demonstrate warmth towards his family while also showing the more restrained nature of royal life. His stammer is believable but the man is clearly more than just speech impediment, it's not his biggest feature but it is something which has held him back and still provides a major obstacle to his potential - hence his relationship with speech therapist Lionel Logue. Their acquaintanceship begins in an unusual manner, it's an awkward introduction and a break from the usual formalities - Logue making a point of them being in *his* territory now, addressing His Majesty as 'Bertie' and insisting that "it's better if we're equals". The unconventional nature of their relaxed meetings is key to Logue's technique and also provides a forum for Bertie to be himself, the friendship developed between them would last throughout their lives. We get to see a friendship grow organically and it looks realistic within the confines of regal life, you can imagine that their meetings were very much like those on screen. Such a film could quite easily have descended into a cheesy bromance, but thankfully this remains understatedly plausible rather than a Hollywood-ised "When Bert met Lionel". The charm which Geoffrey Rush used to good effect in bringing Peter Sellers to life in "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" also provides Logue with a friendly magnetism which is in contrast to the stuffy royal courts, you instantly warm to him. He treats the stammer not as a mechanical failure to deliver words, but as the manifestation of something deeper. One of the most powerful scenes of the film happens to be when Logue encourages Bertie to open up and discuss his childhood - enabling us to see the grown up version of a boy who was shown little emotion by his parents while being abused by a nanny, made to feel inferior to one brother and watch his other be hidden until his death. The psychological roots of his stammer seem obvious in hindsight!
The King's Speech is not only an insight to the royal affairs of the time, but also shows the changing nature of public perception towards the monarchy aided by new media - in this case radio which was in practically every house in Britain. Events usually reported by newspaper were now brought to the attention of the masses as soon as they happened and royal speeches were heard live all over the globe. There are several references made to this new-fangled technology and the film really manages to capture the importance of such broadcasts. The monarchy was in crisis during the 1930s with Edward VIII abdicating, and German association causing suspicion on the run up to war. The film no doubt drew on material from the book The King's Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy, it's a title which may sound a little over-grand but is probably quite true. George VI's growing confidence and competence made him a focal-point of British pride and public opinion of the Monarchy shifted significantly, the popularity George carved out is arguably still strongly felt 70 years on.
The Blu-Ray transfer suits the film well, colours are quite muted to give a period tone. This isn't a masterpiece of high-definition and although detail is beyond DVD, it's not quite as finely detailed as you expect from a modern film. Graining isn't bad given the often dimly lit nature of the scenes but there are one or two scenes which suffer more than others - but overall the picture is clean. The bonus features include a 'making of' documentary which is interesting but doesn't delve too deep, interviews with the cast and also with Logue's grandson. My favourite extras are the two speeches (one from each end of the Second World War) made by George VI, listening to them shows just how good a job Colin Firth did at recreating the voice of our wartime King.
In a nutshell: The King's Speech has been highly praised and deservedly so, I don't feel it's one of the greatest films ever made but I do think it contains some brilliant performances and Firth/Rush seem to have an authentic chemistry which doesn't diminish on repeat viewing. Great character acting and good humour bring to life a friendship which ensured that a man who would rule over a quarter of the world population could finally feel able to address them without shame.
`The Kings Speech' is a gentle drama following George VIth as he comes to the throne of England and works his way through his speech impediment with the assistance of a gregarious Australian speech therapist.
George, otherwise known as Bertie, is played superbly by Firth and whilst his stammer is portrayed very authentically, it never hinders the flow of the film or becomes annoying to watch. Geoffrey Rush is excellent as Lionel Logue, the therapist, and his unorthodox methods rub Bertie up the wrong way, but soon get the desired results. Bonham-Carter is also good as Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) whose support for Bertie helps him through the tough times of his brothers abdication and the outbreak of war.
This is set in the lead up to the second world war and also features such people as Churchill (played by Timothy Spall) and has newsreel footage from the times which enhances the overall feel and helps submerge you into the story and period.
Everyone acts very well in this film and whilst it has a gentle pace, without any need for special effects or other Hollywood tricks, the story is engrossing enough to keep you enthralled for the duration. Firth has been especially lauded for this film and after recently seeing him acting excellently in `A Single Man', one can easily say he is at the height of his acting abilities at the moment.
It is fascinating to get another view of the abdication and inner workings of the royal house during this tumultuous time and the story of Bertie's struggle with his stammer adds a human element to both the royal family and film.
This is well written, acted and directed and I enjoyed it immensely. This has received many recommendations and much deserved praise and I can only add my own recommendation and praise to this. Check it out at some point, you shouldn't be disappointed.
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Released in 2010, The Kings Speech tells the story of the stammering Duke Of York and his ascension to the throne and conquering his speech stammer. The film has received praise and awards all over the world and can arguably be called the best film to come from that year.
The story revolves around King George, Bertie to his friends, and his sudden rise to the throne following the death of his father and the cowardice of his brother. King George has a big voice but due to his stammer, has to receive unorthodox therapy to help him overcome his problem-which in turn forges a friendship that will last the rest of his life. The story works well for its purpose and moves the story along nicely but its a minor point here as the focus is on the acting.
Colin Firth is the stand-out here as lead man Bertie but only just. His portrayal of the stammering king is bang on the money and the haunting look that clouds his eyes is an excellent example of why he was the best man for the job. His acting expertise are on show for everyone to see here and he definitely delivers the best performance of his career. His stammer doesn't sound put on and is very realistic, fooling you into thinking thats his real voice.
Helena Carter is well known for playing psychos and looneys in various films such as Harry Potter, Alice In Wonderland and Sweeney Todd. Here though, she plays Bertie's wife in a more sensitive role which she slips into effortlessly. Her use of humour is brilliant and adds a touch of light-heartedness to the otherwise dark and mature film. Her supporting role is put to good use here and she works well with Colin Firth to deliver an equally realistic performance.
The speech therapist Lile also deserves a mention as the third actor to stand out in the cast. Geoffrey Rush, known for playing Captain Barbossa in Pirates Of The Caribbean, delivers on all fronts and although he doesn't steal the show here like he did in Pirates, he is still fantastic. His unorthodox speech therapy suits his character well and he bounces well with Colin Firth in his role.
So with phenomenal acting and the film based on a true story, its strange to think that despite no big action sequences, no CGI and no massive shockers, the film is still a world class act. This is almost like a documentary in some ways but the camera work is sensational. The opening shots of the microphone while the credits role and the difference in stature and preparation between Bertie and the commentator are excellent and really help to set the tone for the whole movie to come.
Overall, The Kings Speech is one of the best films to be released in 2010 and features a wealth of acting talent throughout held together by three phenomenal performances from Helena Carter, Geoffery Rush and of course, Colin Firth. The story is good but this is all about one man and his struggle to overcome his stammer to become a leader, so the focus is solely on the acting. This character driven story is an excellent example that sometimes, you don't need a massive explosion splashed in CGI to make an audience go wow. A must buy.
Two speeches demonstrate. 1926. Embarrassment at Wembley, the Prince's serious stammer convincing all he will forever need keeping well in the background. 1939. 3rd September, the day war was declared. He, now George VI, a revelation as he broadcasts to the Empire. Most movingly the film shows what happened in between....
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Bush are magnificent as the stuttering Royal and Lionel Logue, his unconventional Australian speech therapist - protocol totally ignored by the teacher, inhibitions gradually shed by the future king. Loosening up exercises, swearing and singing are all part of the treatment.
Disturbing revelations emerge of how the problems came to be - a little boy, naturally left handed, forced to use his right; legs encased in painful supports; a sadistic nanny; an overbearing father; an older brother everybody preferred. Here is an intensely personal portrayal - essentially an unassuming family man now thrust by fate into the limelight, the rest of his life to be spent outside his comfort zone.
Bonuses include a commentary, interesting contributions by many involved, recordings of two speeches by the monarch. There is an excellent interview with Logue's grandson - unearthed diaries causing much excitement, as well as major amendments to the script.
A gem of a film, illuminating and uplifting. It thoroughly deserves its praise and awards.