Thursday, February 17, 2011

The King's Speech (Tom Hooper)

'Your Majesty' cometh.

Aside from the terrific work on the cinematography and overall mise-en-scene, "The King's Speech" also worked perfectly both as a period drama (which portrayed the stirring anxiety of late 30's England about to collide head-on with the Second World War), and as a dynamic display of acting talents, particularly Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, whose exchanges, ranging from the most subtle to the most intense, overwhelm the visual scope of the whole film.

Yes, it is about a piece of royal history, which of course is impossible to tell without wallowing a bit into the majestic and exquisite corners of the Buckingham Palace or the Westminster Abbey. Or touching a bit of Winston Churchill's presence (even though how insignificant he may be in the story). But beyond the external intricacies of the film's palaces and chambers is a humble story of human connection developed not by cinematic twists of fate, but by a verbal stammer under royal pressure. We get acquainted with the stuttering Duke and soon to be crowned King George VI (Colin Firth) with his initial embarrassment as he failed to properly deliver a speech in front of a crowd. His wife (a surprisingly radiant Helena Bonham Carter) then brought him to an unorthodox speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), whose peculiar personality initially clashed with the Duke's, but then soon evolved into a brotherly bond.

I admired how the film looked upon the story with little intent on politics but more on the emotional atmosphere surrounding the monarchy itself: the prime minister's relationship with the royal family, the painstaking process of kingship, the pressure of being an heir to the throne, and finally, the most significant of all, the angst-laden anticipation and last-minute rehearsals of delivering a speech on radio broadcast, which of course would mean the 'whole' of England.

All of us have unexplainable jitters towards speaking in front of many people. And with that, although how far up King George VI's social status is compared to humble viewers like us, we can connect with him, and at certain points of our lives, we ARE him. Different situations, but similar difficulty with enunciation.

His stammering could have easily served his head on a platter to his critics for endless bashing and one-sided scrutinies, but with the help of Logue's masterful effort gathered through experience and a firm belief that King George VI (or 'Bertie', as he preferred), amidst his outer imperfections, can be an able king, he inherited the throne prepared. Not just with how the way he talks, but also how he may think and feel.

And evidently, as he looked upon a footage of Hitler roaring with his Aryan speeches (ironic considering how brilliant a speaker Hitler was and how frail King George VI's ability to do so really is), he gathered his senses and stared at the Fuhrer with indifferent confidence; he is indeed quite ready.


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