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The Madness Of King George [DVD]
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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.
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very well acted by all especially Nigel Hawthorne and Helen MirrenPublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent film; so moving and wonderfully acted and costumed.Published 3 months ago by MRS H BIRKBECK
I'm not one for favourites, really. I'm one of those who will say "I like this this because... and that... and that...." So I don't have a "favourite film". Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mike Watkinson
Great film, fantastic classical music track. I could watch it over and over! It shows the horror of the illness as well as the funny side of things throughput the illnessPublished 8 months ago by Thomas J M Keane