Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The King's Speech, a Film by Tom Hooper

"Why should I waste time listening?" asks Lionel Logue from the forbidden seat of St. Edward's chair in Westminster Abbey.

"Because I have a voice!" the prince soon to be King George VI replies, his words ringing through the ancient cathedral.

There are many great lines exchanged by the pair in the new film The King's Speech, starring Colin Firth (as the king) and Geoffrey Rush (as Logue). The speech therapist often gently pokes the very proper prince, sometimes causing the monarch to curse. (And the film gets an undeserved R rating.) He doesn't stutter when angered. Logue's job is to find a way for his client to deliver messages to the nation without stop.

Set in the 1930's, director Tom Hooper has recreated a gray, slightly dingy London. The weather is often dismal or cold, and the lighting in interiors is dim. Still, the old trappings of a powerful nation can be seen in the huge halls and heavy furniture of Buckingham Palace and in the great spaciousness of Westminster Abbey. In contrast, the office and home of the speech therapist are large but almost devoid of furnishings other than chairs and large radios. In the background is the music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms. Britain is a struggling but proud nation wanting to uphold its honor. The prince's brother Edward wants to marry a divorcee and Germany is threatening war.

Moviegoers who like great acting and a bit of history will enjoy the film. Firth and Rush are brilliant. Harry Potter fans will enjoy seeing Helena Bonham Carter, Timothy Spall, and Michael Gambon. Masterpiece Theater fans will recognize Derek Jacobi and Anthony Andrews. I'd enjoy seeing the film again. I think it will become a classic.

The real king's speech can be heard on YouTube. It seems particularly tense after seeing the film.

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