January 9, 2011
At both my mother and my mother-in-law’s insistence, I saw the much-ballyhooed film The King’s Speech tonight, with my entire immediate family – mom, dad, and sister, as well as my 10 year old niece, Paige.
I think it may have been the first film all four of my family members had seen together since… The Man From Snowy River…? Crocodile Dundee…? The Gods Must Be Crazy… Yup, two Australian and one South African movie for whatever reason, and who knew an Australian would hold such influence in The King’s Speech? In fact, who would ever think to turn to an Australian to learn how to speak properly?
That’s exactly what happens in The King’s Speech, a true story set in 1930s England, as the crown is passed from George to Edward to… another George, the one who can’t speak properly. He stammers, yet because of the advent of radio, monarchs are expected to speak loudly and proudly into the microphone… to unite and inspire the entire British Empire.
The pain, embarrassment, and frustration King George VI goes through just to hammer out a few stilted words in public was both cringeworthy and enlightening. As a radio broadcaster, a singer, and a public speaker, I count on my voice for a living. Many times, on some fancy occasion when I have to step up to the microphone, I have wondered if anything will come out. Sometimes, when hosting on Radio 1 current affairs, I have come close to “freezing up”, and have had to “King George” my way through an endless moment to get my “flow” back… but most of the time my voice does just that… the words and sounds flow… and I realized, watching The King’s Speech, how much I’ve taken that for granted.
What I tell NO ONE is that I have a stutter. Luckily, it only comes out when I am forced to speak when extremely frightened, in a very serious situation, or shocked to my core. Luckily, that doesn’t happen that often. Luckily, while hosting live events and radio shows can be nerve wracking, I don’t find them extremely frightening.
Back to The King’s Speech: I tend to avoid monarchy movies (yawn), but found this one riveting on many levels, in such that it exposed the Royals’ bizarre fishbowl living situation, and their snobbery and lording over the common people. Colin Firth plays the frustrated George VI with fractured humility, Geoffrey Rush plays the Australian speech therapist, and is a hilarious and intelligent character, who while very confident, is hiding his own secret. Guy Pearce plays the gadfly King Edward VIII (called David in the film, which confused me… George VI is referred to as Albert, or Bertie), and Helena Bonham Carter plays the very entitled but devoted Queen.
For the most part, my family loved it. Except for my 10 year old niece Paige. Not enough shirtless vampires for her taste.
Have you seen The King’s Speech? What did you think of the film?