Sunday, November 14, 2010

The King's Speech

History is written by the victors.

--Winston Churchill

Colin Firth delivers an incredibly moving performance as King George VI in the film, The King's Speech. 'Bertie' as he is called by his family, suffers from a pronounced stutter that has plagued his official royal duties at public engagements. Less than a year after his father King George V dies, his brother Edward, the rightful heir to the throne, famously abdicates to be with the woman he loves (Wallis Simpson). If the stakes weren't already high, it's 1937 and England is preparing for war with Nazi Germany. As the new king, it's essential that he speaks with courage and conviction to prepare his country for the lean and awful years that lay ahead.

Bertie's supportive wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) commissions the assistance of an eccentric speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). With patience, kindness and unorthodox methods, Lionel coaches Bertie in finding his voice and his confidence. It's the unlikely friendship between Bertie and Lionel, and the believable camaraderie between Firth and Rush that make the film both fascinating and heartwarming.

History tends to gloss over the personal challenges and private matters of important figures. For the entire 11 years of his presidency, FDR was paralyzed from the waist down, Abraham Lincoln struggled with debilitating depression, JFK suffered chronic back pain and experienced the tragic death of a son during his presidency. We look to our leaders for strength, yet overcoming such adversity and how it defines character is left for writers of fiction.

No comments: