A movie about British royalty giving speeches to British people actually has a good chance to be one of the greatest movies of the year. “The King’s Speech” is the story of England’s king who, although he could not even say a full sentence, ultimately led his country through the second world war.
Colin Firth plays Albert the Duke of York, a man who fights a stammer that keeps him from speaking clearly, posing a problem when you have people to lead and inspire. ‘Bertie’ tries therapist after therapist, with no results. He finally agrees to work with Lionel, played by Geoffery Rush. The therapist’s strange methods actually help Bertie read an entire passage out loud without a stutter.
But perfect fluency is still far off and Bertie’s stutter is not his only problem. Bertie’s father, King George V, dies and the throne goes to his oldest son Edward. But Edward is irresponsible and spends more time seeing to his mistress than seeing to his nation. He wants to marry the woman but she has been divorced and such a marriage is improper for a king. Edward would then become the first king of England to renounce the throne, passing it on to his little brother, who felt no better equipped.
At this time in history, the increasing use of radio and newsreels puts more pressure on the head of state to speak clearly and confidently. Prince Albert’s articulation was anything but clear and confident. He remained dedicated when working with Lionel, who insists on treating Bertie as an equal, trying to form a friendship in order to break through the Prince’s impediment. Lionel stays with the future king, building his confidence through exercises and standing by his side when he announces that England will go to war.
The movie gives an important insight into English culture most Americans have not, or even cared to, have seen. But it is something surprisingly interesting. The dynamics of the royal family are intriguing. They put aside all that could resemble a normal life in order to serve their country. The film focuses on Bertie, not the scandal his brother caused, which was the main event at the time.
If not for being passed the crown, Bertie would have remained a timid man with a stammer. He never saw himself as king, but with Hitler waging war on neighboring countries, England needed a leader. “The King’s Speech” shows the audience a very personal side of the British monarchy.