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The Kings Speech
Genre Drama

The British royal family have had their fair share of embarrassments through the ages: Richard III's bloody coronation, Queen Victoria's "wicked uncles", rumours that Prince Albert Victor was in fact Jack the Ripper, Prince Charles, his ears, Camilla Parker Bowles... the list continues. One such national embarrassment was The Duke of York, whose futile military exploits inspired this song...

"Oh, the grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

And when they were up they were up,
And when they were down they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down."

However, The K-k-king's Sp-speech is not about the military exploits of this particular Duke of York, but rather about the potential embarrassment of "Bertie". Second to the throne, it was "Bertie" who overcame his stutter with the help of a speech therapist named Lionel. No, this is not a royal romance - it was his therapist, who gave him the friendship, confidence and verbal fortitude to boldly lead Britain into war. The King's Speech is a historical drama, with "Bertie" lovingly portrayed by Colin Firth, who has been going from strength-to-strength with each new award-winning performance.

Playing someone with a stutter is no easy feat... comparable to acting seriously with your foot in your mouth, and Firth commands the role with a regal grace and dignified self-loathing. We learn that the impediment has most probably been caused by a series of childhood disappointments and it's not long before renowned speech therapist and last resort, Lionel Logue, is summoned to fix the Duke's stutter.

The story centres on the relationship between Bertie and Lionel, who see-saw in their professional and personal relationship with one another. The King's Speech views the relationship from several angles: the political slant of royalty relying on a mere commoner, the vulnerability of doctor-patient confidentiality and the test of true friendship, shaping the complex bond between a British Royal and an Aussie everyman.

The performances are key in The King's Speech, with Colin Firth in possibly the best patch in his acting career, supported by seasoned and consistently excellent contender, Geoffrey Rush. The two have great on-screen chemistry and adapt their performances from heavy drama to light comic moments, showing their great versatility. Let's not forget about Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pierce, who give the ensemble even more credibility with fine supporting roles - with Bonham Carter garnering an Oscar nomination for her part as a young Queen Elizabeth in the making.

Tom Hooper directs after successful outings with Longford, John Adams and The Damned United, giving this historical drama bite with a real sense of authenticity for the life and times. The movie's title and era conjure up a stuffy, pretentious and somewhat stale atmosphere, but Hooper has converted what could have been a languishing drama into a historically accurate, entertaining, lively and relevant drama giving his actors space to truly shine in this remarkable true story.

The cinematography is beautifully understated, the score gives the story pomp and purpose, the production values are outstanding, transporting the audience back in time. There are uplifting, funny and dead serious moments - wringing out every drop of entertainment, while staying true to the characters. The King's Speech is difficult to fault. Some may find it difficult to relate to, but it manages to draw the same sort of audience that Shakespeare was renowned for with contact points for the aristocrat and working class man. 

The story of King George VI's ascension to the throne is not familiar to international audiences, yet The King's Speech changes that... turning what seems rather insignificant in retrospect, casting a light on what could have been a turning point in world history. The King's Speech is a true all-rounder, and with 12 Oscar nominations in almost every department, it's easy to see how this quality film production has won the hearts of all who see it.

The bottom line: B-b-brilliant.


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