Movie Review: “The King’s Speech”


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What do you do if you are the king of nearly one-quarter of the world’s population and, finding your empire poised on the brink of one of the most pivotal episodes of the twenteieth century, you can barely make your way through a single sentence?

The importance of voice is revealed in “The King’s Speech,” when Bertie, the Duke of York (Colin Firth), begins working with yet another speech therapist after years of dealing with a significant stammering problem. Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the Duke’s wife, has found a new therapist by the name of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).

Logue uses unconventional methods that are not exactly suited for royalty, creating a bit of tension (and a good deal of humor), between the Duke and Logue. But when the Duke is faced with suddenly becoming king on the eve of World War II, he must find the courage to speak and rule the Empire.

The story of King George VI, his speech impediment and the relationship that evolved between Logue and himself has not been very widely told.

The story is that the Queen Mother, Bertie’s widow and mother of the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, had requested that the story not be told publicly until all involved had passed on. Now, roughly a decade after the Queen Mother’s death, we get to learn the intimate and secret history of King George VI and how he befriended a commoner who stood by his side during the most pivotal moments of his reign.

It should be said, that though based on fact, “The King’s Speech” frequently veers from the real story. In fact, the King’s stammering wasn’t nearly as bad as the film depicts it to be.

Released last Friday, and already garnering considerable Oscar buzz, “The King’s Speech” is, in many ways, a coming-of-age story. Despite being years into adulthood, Bertie still has to overcome the impediment stunting his growth as a man and as a leader. To discover his voice, Bertie has much more than just stammering to overcome.

At such a pivotal time in world history, and within a powerful but uncertain and frightened empire, the voice of the king is all that really matters. It is expected that a king be regal and confident. Bertie must take this path in order to learn that he does have a voice.

In “The King’s Speech” we get a front row seat to the arrival of a man who became a king. We watch as he overcomes the challenges that can make or break him.

It is a fascinating glimpse of the often surprising human drama behind the crown.

“The King’s Speech” plays daily at the Ashland Varsity Theater, 166 East Main St.


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