King George VI waged war with Germany. But before that, he was an inveterate stammerer. How he overcomes that is what the film is about. Hence, “The King’s Speech.” The King’s a fragile person who shies away from people. There’s a connection between that and his stammering. He doesn’t stammer when he talks to himself or his family but when he’s out there in front of people, he’s conscious of what he says. As far as he can remember, he’s been stammering.
At the age of four, some incident sparked his stammering. That incident is mentioned in passing and so is the world war. The film keeps these issues at arm’s length and refuses to stray away from The King’s Speech. His haranguing father is on his death bed and someone has to succeed him. His inability to live up to his father’s expectations has made him want to be left alone. However, when his elder brother intends to marry a divorcee, (who acquired certain skills at an establishment in Shanghai), the throne becomes his to lose. Even his father had remarked, “When I’m dead, your brother will ruin himself, this family and this nation, within twelve months. Who’s going to pick up the pieces?” The expectations pile on and he cries, “I’m not a King.” Destiny however places the crown on his head and with it comes the royal responsibility of addressing the nation.
Colin Firth is both subtle and over-the-top in playing King George VI. The character is real but it is just one dimension of him that we’re shown. Who would’ve expected to see the freak in Fight Club and Sweeney Todd, portray British highness with grace? Here, Helena Bonham Carter breaks stereotype. Just as her character, Queen Elizabeth stands by the King, Carter supports the film. Not entirely of course. There’s Geoffrey Rush playing Lionel Logue, the unorthodox and controversial speech therapist. Logue has no diploma, no qualifications, and no credentials; yet he’s a man with his head on his shoulders. Haven given people faith in their voices, he’s mighty sure of his work and himself. Rush shines in the role and the scenes where he and Firth indulge in verbal sparring are a pleasure to watch.
David Seidler, (who probably used a lot of his own diary entries for research) a cured stutterer himself, gives heart to the film by laying the foundations with his slick screenplay, one filled with British banter.
The cinematography is beyond functional. It isn’t just beautifully shot; it is effective enough to make the microphone look vicious and overbearing. There’re wide angle and low angle shots capturing the audience who’re actually at a lower plane but appear to be towering the King. As the last few long shots are shown minutes before The King’s Speech, it is you who’s going to feel the tension mounting with every “Good luck, your Majesty.”
Every scene resonates with royalty thanks to the sublime direction of Tom Hooper, a master of his craft. Unlike its Oscar rival ‘The Social Network’, it may not stand the test of time; but for what the film is, it’s flawless. The King’s Speech is a powerfully inspiring film that is relatable to anybody wanting to be a somebody.
Rating – 10/10