Recently, I have taken to heading to the cinema on a Sunday night. Working full-time, Monday to Friday has brought with it a refreshed hatred of the ‘Sunday night feeling’ that I long associated with being a reluctant schoolkid. Heading to the movies gets me out of the house, keeps me occupied and gives me something interesting to talk about in the office the following morning.
This week, it was the turn of The King’s Speech. Dan and I headed to the Electric Picture House in Wotton-under-Edge (totally fabulous community-run cinema – complete with free Quality Street!) to see the film everyone is talking about. Already a success at the Golden Globes, this week has seen the film pick up twelve Oscar nominations, and as far as I am concerned, not one of them is undeserved.
Given that it is set at during an undoubtedly dark time in modern British history, what struck me most about The King’s Speech is just how much of an uplifting film it was. Edward II’s abdication and imminent war with Germany is hardly a cheering context, but screenwriter David Seidler turns these monumental historical events into secondary challenges, that can easily be mounted and conquered if only poor King George VI can find his tongue. Throughout the film, as the king’s speech improves, and his confidence grows, the wider political scene grows more unsettled, forcing the reluctant monarch into the limelight to act as a beacon of hope for his country. By the time the movie reached its climax, every part of me was willing him to pull it out of the bag.
(Colin Firth in The King’s Speech. Image here.)
Speech impediments are a dark and complicated affliction that affect so many people at some point in their lives, and I was impressed with the way in which Colin Firth effectively portrayed the physiological, as well as the psychological symptoms of the stammer. From the visible straining of the neck muscles as the words are forced out of the mouth, to the frightened look in the eyes, one can start to feel the torment and discomfort that anyone suffering with a speech impediment must constantly battle with just by watching Firth on screen for a few minutes.
Ever since watching The Queen, I have had a strange fascination with the Royal Family, especially their more everyday and mundane interactions. Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter successfully portray the intimate side of a royal relationship, complete with bedtime stories and late night emotional confrontations in dressing gowns, despite the emotional restraint expected of a family so in the public eye. This contrasts wonderfully with the family of unconventional speech therapist Lionel Logue – a pitch-perfect Geoffrey Rush – a difference highlighted when the King attends a session at Logue’s home and the Queen stays for tea.
(Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech. Image here.)
As appears to be a tradition at provincial cinemas, the audience clapped at the end of The King’s Speech. I can’t blame them though, the film is funny, touching and beautifully made. That an entire feature film can be centred around one man’s speech impediment still amazes me, and that it can be such a feelgood experience even more so. I hope it cleans up at the Oscars.