By Lane Roberts
When The King’s Speech appeared in theaters back in late December, it immediately became a favorite among Oscar speculators. Winning four awards in February only cemented its standing as an instant classic.
Fortunately, students were given the opportunity to view the film this past weekend in Reamer Auditorium. But in case you did not have the chance to watch the movie on campus, here is a quick refresher encouraging you to see the film after its release to video next week.
In Colin Firth’s Oscar-winning role as King George VI of Britain in The King’s Speech, he portrays the stuttering, unsure monarch whose impromptu ascension to the throne leads him to hire an unorthodox speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) in order to help him become worthy of the title.
The film, directed by Tom Hooper, features a phenomenal cast led by Firth, Rush as the eccentric Lionel Logue and Helena Bonham Carter as George’s loving wife, Elizabeth. Rush and Carter were both also nominated for Oscars in the Supporting Actor and Actress categories, respectively.
The King’s Speech tells the story of Prince Albert (“Bertie”) who, after his brother abdicates, reluctantly assumes the throne. Tormented by a dreaded stammer and considered by his subjects unfit to be king, he recruits the help of Logue. Through a set of surprising techniques and the unlikely friendship that develops between them, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead Britain through the tumultuous times of World War II.
The film opens with Albert’s disastrous speech at the 1925 British Empire Exhibition. Elizabeth (Carter, in one of her best performances to date) realizes that her husband will face more public humiliation once he ascends the throne. Thus, her search for a speech therapist begins.
After a few unsuccessful attempts, she takes Albert to see Lionel Logue, a failed actor who has set up a speech therapy practice. At first, Logue doesn’t recognize his new client and suggests that he and Albert be on a first-name basis, calling him by his childhood nickname, Bertie. Having been raised within the formality of the monarchy, Albert objects to such treatment.
Undaunted even after realizing his identity, Lionel insists that if he is to succeed as the king’s therapist, he must first become his friend. After initial hesitation, Albert loosens up, leading to comical exchanges, producing memorable scene such as the one in which Lionel prods Bertie to lose his cool, forcing him to sing a symphony of profanities (all stammer-free).
The King’s Speech could have been a stuffy British period piece about a stuttering king who learns to stop worrying and love the microphone. Instead, Hooper breathes new life into every frame of this touching story and generates exciting human drama out of the dry dust of history. The movie may play out on a battlefield of words and not actions, but don’t let that scare you. In the end, what we have here is a superb historical drama that is intensely personal and certainly one of the best of the year, as the Oscars recognized.
The King’s Speech comes to DVD and Blu-Ray on April 19.
The next film to be screened in Reamer Auditorium will be Country Strong, showing Friday through Monday at 8 and 10 p.m.