Friday, February 18, 2011

The King's Speech - Royal Stammering and Colin Firth

I am familiar with Prince Charles and Lady Di, their sons William and Harry, hunky Prince Andrew and the spritely Duchess Fergie of York. I am also familiar with Queen Elizabeth II, Charles' mother, and her sister Princess Margaret. But who is King George VI?

King George was a historically significant royalty. He was the King of United Kingdom for 16 years. He was also India's last emperor, and the last king of Scotland. He was George V's 2nd son. For most of his young life, he moved under the shadows of his older brother Edward who was the rightful heir to their father's (King George V) throne. Edward was charismatic, but flighty, and eventually abdicated his throne when being king wouldn't allow him to marry an American divorcee.

As a child, King George was described as "easily frightened and somewhat prone to tears". As a young adult, he was constantly embarrassed by his stammering which turned out to be his biggest hurdle in his ascendancy to the throne.

Tom Hooper's "The King's Speech" is King George VI's inspiring journey to finding his public voice at a time when his people faced several tribulations (the British empire's war with Hitler's Germany). This he did under the tutelage of an unorthodox speech therapist, an Australian immigrant named Lionel Logue (marvelously played by Geoffrey Rush).

Colin Firth plays George VI while Helena Bonham-Carter his Queen. And I cannot begin to emphasize the staggering performance of these two actors! Firth just might run away with the Oscar Best Actor plum, an award that he deserved last year with "A Single Man". He already won a Golden Globe for the same role. Bonham-Carter and Rush deserve a nomination as well, and Firth's scenes with Rush simmer and spark! Guy Pearce was almost perfect as the roguish Prince Edward (though a bit iffy with his accent).

Afraid of the microphone.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I (Firth and Carter)

Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, an unorthodox speech defect therapist.

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