The King’s Speech

This was a great movie about King George VI of the United Kingdom. It portrays a snippet of his life from about 1925 to 1940 and focuses on his close relationship to a speech therapist named Lionel Logue.

The speech that the title takes it’s name from is a radio address that King George gave shortly after the declaration of war on Germany. It appears to have been a breakthrough performance for the king, who was a lifelong stammerer (a term they used in the movie). He delivered it with only few hitches under the close tutelage of Logue. Not only did Logue continue to work with the King after this, but he ended up being a lifelong friend of the King.

I left the Rose Bowl (Wisconsin vs TCU) at halftime to see this movie and I have no regrets. I figured heck, the Big 10 had already lost four games, so what were the chances of Wisconsin saving the day? Turns out, pretty good. It ended up being a great game, but this movie rocked. So I’m fine with the way things worked out.

History played an important part in this movie. It was a tumultuous time for the UK. Hitler was amassing military strength, Stalin was asserting his power, and the US was in the Great Depression. To exacerbate things, the rightful heir to the throne, King George’s brother Edward, wanted to marry a twice-divorced American (basically illegal). It was imperative for royalty to display political and idealogical leadership to the country during this time. In the end, Edward had to abdicate the throne to marry his love, so for the first time a King succeeded someone that wasn’t dead or near-dead. Which ended being especially stressful for a King lacking in self-confidence. But King George VI had a strong will.

Enter Logue, who was first contacted by the King’s wife (then the Duchess of York) in a last ditch effort to find a decent speech therapist after he botched the address at the British Empire Exhibition in 1925. Logue was portrayed as highly confident and unconventional. He treated the King as an equal and refused, at first, to call him your highness. Instead, he used the King’s nickname Bertie, which was unheard of. Logue’s confidence was grounded in his successful work with previous patients despite not having a doctoral degree. He seemed like an interesting guy.

This movie is an inspiring piece of history (or historical fiction, you never know how much these things are dramatized unless you’re a historian or an insider). It shows how the human mind can crack in professional situations under stress and insecurity, then emerge victorious. Let me put it this way – think of the toughest job, project, or client you’ve ever had. Then heap on the fact that you can’t quit, despite being in a little over your head – you are shackled to the job. Then throw in a boss, coworkers and family who constantly belittle you.

Do you crack under the pressure? Or do you persevere with a strong will while relying on friends and family to help you through it? Great story and awesome performances all the way around.

Starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, and Guy Pearse. Directed by Tom Hooper.

2 replies on “The King’s Speech”

I just saw the 60 Minutes special on this movie. They interviewed Colin Firth and went through Logue’s papers with his grandson, who dug them up for the movie. I’m a little more comforted about the general authenticity of the movie. But they had to make up most of the treatment scenes because they could not find Logue’s specific notes on how he treated the King. That’s fine.

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