The King’s Speech

March 1, 2015

the king's speechI must say that this film is very dear to my heart, due to three reasons: I admire British actor Colin Firth very much, anything related to the British Royal Family is of interest to me and, last but not least, this film is about friendship beyond social status and nationality. How did it become one of my favourite films? When I was a freshman, our English Phonetics professor made us watch The King’s Speech during one of the seminars. I found the plot unusual and different from anything I have seen until then, but I was also a bit frustrated because we had time to see only a half of the film. Therefore, I eventually bought a DVD to watch it from the comfort of my home. From then on, I guess that I have watched it probably eight times or more and I still cannot get enough of it.

The King’s Speech is a 2010 British historical drama, directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler, starring Colin Firth as Albert, Duke of York/King George VI, Helena Bonham Carter as the Duchess/Queen Elisabeth, Derek Jacobi as Archbishop Cosmo Lang, Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue and Jennifer Ehle as Myrtle Logue. This film received many positive reviews from film critics and it won many awards such as Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Oscars, BAFTA awards and many more.

In short, the Duke Albert’s lifetime stammer stops him from fulfilling his public royal duties – through the relatively new invention of the radio, people all over the British Empire could hear the important messages read by their monarch and the other members of the Royal Family. Noticing the inefficient pieces of advice and treatments of the physicians, the Duchess finds Lionel Logue, an unconventional Australian speech therapist, who will have the painstakingly mission to convince the Duke that his methods of treatment are worth trying. Albert is very reluctant during the first session and, later on, the two men have a few heated arguments, because Logue breaks the royal etiquette and also because the Duke takes things personally. However, they eventually become friends and Logue helps the future King George VI rehearse for his coronation day and he is also by his side when the British monarch delivers his speech, in which he informs his subjects that Britain declares war on Hitler’s Germanythe king's speech helena bonham carter colin firth elitere

Colin Firth does a wonderful job playing the role of a stammering person whose childhood traumas led to speech impediments, but he is also fit to perform the role of a duke or king, since this British actor has something aristocratic in him and certain elegance in his gestures. I perceived the protagonist of The King’s Speech as an introverted person, who felt inferior to his brother David and would have wanted to prevent the latter from abdicating. Albert believed that his speech disorder would have prevented him from being the monarch his subjects needed in time of war. And yet… the film shows us that he is a true king at heart, he cares for his people and the future of Britain.

Like any human being, he has his moments of weakness when he is overwhelmed by royal duties and the incapacity of getting things done the way he should. In contrast, his wife, played by Helena Bonham Carter, is always by his side to encourage and to support him. She takes him to Logue’s cabinet and participates in the speech therapy sessions. Though the British actress is well-known for more eccentric roles, here she is a very discreet, delicate and refined royal lady – the mother of Queen Elisabeth II.

Lionel Logue is a common man and a speech therapist who makes the future king realize that his speech impediment comes from his childhood traumas and that through practice he can improve his communication skills. Though he angers the Duke and waits for a long time for some royal excuses, he kindly receives Albert when the latter finally comes to apologize for his behaviour. The two men have a talk about the future king’s concerns about public speeches and Lionel calmly says to him that: “You don’t need to be afraid of the things you were afraid of when you were five” – a sentence that each one of us has to remember sometimes.  Logue has a lot of patience with the Duke, he is a good listener and maybe that’s why Albert feels confident to tell him all about the humiliation and mockery he had endured in his childhood from his father, his brother and so on.

I love this film, because it focuses more on the characters’ feelings, especially Albert’s, on the life of the Royal Family and a bit less on the approaching Second World War. When the Duke tries to warn his brother, King Edward VIII, about the Nazi threat and that he should take reigning more seriously, the monarch misinterprets Albert’s words as an attempt to steal his throne. Though The King’s Speech is a historical drama that has sad or heart breaking scenes (such as King George VI’s declaration of war, accompanied by Ludwig van the king's speech colin firthBeethoven’s chilling Symphony No. 7 – II), there are also funny moments, such as the witty dialogues, Logue’s therapeutic methods and the scenes where the King swears, sings or dances in order to speak more fluently or to get rid of the pressure he felt before the broadcast.

I think that I love this film so much because I also feel nervous when I must speak in front of unfamiliar people or in front of those who make me feel uncomfortable. Therefore, on a smaller scale, I can understand how Duke Albert/King George VI felt in front of the microphone. The King’s Speech taught me to believe more in myself, in what I can do and also to be less afraid of the dark scenarios my mind creates sometimes. For me, one of the most memorable lines of Logue’s is when he encourages King George VI before his broadcasted speech: “Forget everything else and just say it to me. Say it to me, as a friend.

by Alina Andreea Cătărău

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11 Responses to The King’s Speech

  1. Mihaela on March 1, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Thank you for reminding me of this great movie. It has a special significance for me since I had to sit next to my crush while watching it (my now boyfriend) and I was particularly nervous about that. But soon enough the movie caught my full on attention and I got into it really fast. It will always be among my favorites, mainly because I have issues with speaking in public as well and after seeing Geoffrey Rush in “The Book Thief” I’ve gotten quite fond of him.

    • Elena Atudosiei on March 1, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      I can’t wait to see it. Alina has been talking about this film for a very long time, but – shame on me – I haven’t watched it yet. I hope I will love it. I mean, Helena Bonham Carter’s there… and I like Geoffrey Rush. I’ll try to make time for it soon.

      Mihaela, thanks for the little glimpse of your story! :*

      • Alina Andreea Cătărău on March 1, 2015 at 7:36 pm

        Well, you have missed a fabulous film, dearest, but we can watch it together anytime you wish! Weekends are for fun and films! :* Thank you for letting me know.

        • Elena Atudosiei on March 1, 2015 at 7:38 pm

          Knowing me and my schedule, we’ll probably watch it together one day. :)

          • Alina Andreea Cătărău on March 1, 2015 at 7:43 pm

            I’m sure you will love it! :)

    • Alina Andreea Cătărău on March 1, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      Thank you, Mihaela, I’m glad that this film reminds you of such wonderful moments. I am very shy towards new people and situations and I’m also visually impaired, so it’s a pretty unpleasant feeling for me when I have to read something in class. I think that I resonated with “The King’s Speech” because I thought: if this great man, who had a speech impediment had the courage to rule his country in such a hard historical period, then why can’t I try to overcome my fear of seminars?
      I had the intention to see “The Book Thief”, but I haven’t succeeded yet. But who knows?

  2. Les Miserables: de la roman la musical | eLitere on October 27, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    […] este în regia lui Tom Hooper (câștigătorul premiului Oscar pentru The King’s Speech) și are la bază nu doar opera lui Victor Hugo, ci și musicalul pus în scenă în 1985. Am vrut […]

  3. Elena Atudosiei on December 28, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    I’m glad I finally got to see the film, Alina. I loved it (no surprise there, considering how many brilliant actors are brought together)!

    • Alina Andreea Catarau on December 28, 2015 at 6:36 pm

      There’s no doubt about that, the film is a masterpiece. I’m happy that we watched it together.

  4. Film Tag | eLitere on May 22, 2016 at 5:41 am

    […] in some of his roles, take for instance Mr Darcy in the Pride and Prejudice series. However, in The King’s Speech we see another side of his talent and even glimpse of vulnerability, while as Roman General […]

  5. Film Tag 2 | eLitere on September 11, 2016 at 5:59 am

    […] The King’s Speech was the first film I watched in which the protagonist had a speech impediment that prevented him from fulfilling his duties as a member of the British Monarchy. It was the first films that struck a chord with me, because I’m able to understand, at a smaller scale, how someone who is afraid of public speaking feels in front of a crowd or a microphone. Colin Firth does a great job bringing King George VI back to life and the overall story is amazing and inspiring. Everyone should watch this film. […]

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