On my last day of Christmas holidays I saw The King’s Speech at the cinema. I was about the youngest person in the cinema!
It was an exceptional film – I encourage everyone to see it.
It’s the true story of King George VI’s struggle, courage and triumph with a serious speech impediment.
It stars Colin Firth as King George VI (Albert), Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth, and Australians Geoffry Rush as Lionel Logue and Guy Pearce as King Edward VIII.
With the invention of the radio, it was the role of the King to give speeches to the nation across the airwaves. King George VI couldn’t successfully deliver speeches with his stammer and he’d tried many treatments and failed. Queen Elizabeth came across Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist, and encouraged her husband to see him for treatment. After some reluctance, George saw Lionel regularly and practiced speech therapy daily.
The King, as I imagined, was rigid, stubborn and aware of his power. Lionel, on the contrast, was open, humourous with an air of whimsy, and treated the King like an ordinary person. He used non traditional speech therapy methods. My favourite scene was when Lionel encouraged the King to listen to music while speaking, and recorded it on a big contraption. The King doubted his speaking ability, but the results were surprising and he realised his potential when he played the recording back.
An unlikely friendship between royalty and a commoner blossomed.
Queen Elizabeth was particularly supportive and nurturing.
The love for and belief she had in her husband was unfaltering. She was by his side during the difficult times. It was refreshing to see the human side of the Royal Family.
All the actors gave strong performances. Perfect poise, diction and emotion. It’s humourous, warm, uplifting and emotive. The film has been deservedly nominated for a number of awards including The Golden Globes and BAFTAS, and has received glowing praise from critics.
The King’s Speech got me thinking about the difficulties of being unable to communicate clearly when in such an important role (and also that royalty can’t just change their occupation!). I considered how we don’t often the private struggles of many public figures, apart from the modern means of rumours in gossip magazines. I think that is if some of these private struggles (including disabilities) of public figures were shared more widely and often, it would provide hope and encouragement to common people to overcome their challenges and improve their lives. I also saw just how far removed the Royal Family was (still is?) from society, and yet their desire to have friends and common societal experiences. I also saw that while the world is at war with soldiers and guns and dictators, people are also facing their own personal battles, which can be just as difficult.
King George VI’s struggle and courage to succeed to a position of clear speech actually reminded me of my friend Shaz’s current determination to walk five kilometres in the Run for the Kids. Shaz has Cerebral Palsy and has learnt to walk again after an operation on her legs several years ago. I see that if you set a goal and work hard, and have confidence in both your mentors and yourself. you can achieve your goal.
The King’s Speech is the story of personal courage rising above adversity. Elitism and hierarchy. Friendship. Influence. Triumph. Equality. Trust. Self belief.
These themes are what makes us human. And perhaps if it wasn’t for King George VI having to explore these themes, he may not have developed into a down to earth and emotionally intelligent king.