The King’s Speech

Twelve months ago, an invitation to watch a film about a stuttering king would have sounded like a joke. No one could have imagined that the reality of it would be so inspirational.Prince Albert (Firth), the Duke of York and second in line to the throne, suffers from a crippling stutter. In 1934, he finds himself in the middle of a royal crisis. With his father, King George V (Michael Gambon), nearing the end of his life, and his brother, the Prince of Wales (Guy Pearce), canoodling with an American divorcee, it seems that a great responsibility awaits. Prince Albert’s speech impediment continues to plague him and, persuaded by his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), he sees Lionel Logue (Rush), an unconventional Australian therapist who ignores protocol by calling him “Bertie.” Though faithless at first, Bertie’s ability to speak begins to improve. With the death of his father and the abdication of his brother, Bertie is crowned King George VI shortly before the world’s descent into war. His people need a King who can lead them.As you examine each layer of The King’s Speech, its true brilliance becomes clear. The ingenuity of its cinematography is unrivalled—high-angles, low-angles, tracking shots, off-center framing, intense close ups and spectacular wide shots leave you constantly captivated—and its score is a stirring recollection of a lost art. Firth and Rush are at their best and the supporting cast, too, must receive praise: Bonham Carter’s dedicated Elizabeth, Gambon’s ailing King George V, Pearce’s hopelessly enamored Prince of Wales and Timothy Spall’s flabby-faced Winston Churchill.The heart of this film is nothing more than the story of a King who learned how to control his stammer, but as The King’s Speech reaches its triumphant climax, it becomes much more than that. Firth’s King George VI is one of us; he is each of us who has gone toe-to-toe with a great challenge and held our own. Rush’s Logue is more than a therapist; he is that friend who stood by in our darkest hour, even able to offer a joke or two. That’s the final accomplishment of The King’s Speech: Humor. No one does comedy like the British, and this is as good as it gets.The King’s Speech’s 12 Academy Award nominations are richly deserved but really, it doesn’t matter what happens at the ceremony. This is a film bigger than all that; it is that uncommon work which can fill you with raw positivity. The King’s Speech is a masterpiece of our time.