24 June 2011

The King's Speech

Occasionally in my film-watching, I will stumble across a film which absolutely takes me off guard with its superior acting/cinematography/writing/etc. Usually, I only find a handful of these in a whole year, scattered among the mediocre and/or good films that fill the rest of the time. Don't get me wrong: I see a LOT of very good films in a year. I simply don't see extremely great films all that often. However, in the first 4 months of this year, I had already seen three knock-out motion pictures: Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, the German art thriller Run Lola Run, and then the AFI listed Bonnie & Clyde. That, usually, would have filled my quota of remarkable movies for the year, but then this movie happened.

At long last, I got around to seeing The King's Speech. I had expected it to be quite good, not so much because it won Best Picture [remember: there are very few really great Oscar winning films!] but because of the heart behind it. However, even if I had expected it to be as great as it is, my expectations would have still been blown away.

Screenwriter David Seidler first began work on The King's Speech in the 1970's. Being deeply interested in King George VI, and wanting to tell his story as authentically as possible, he contacted the still-living speech therapist Lionel Logue [played by Geoffry Rush, one of my favorite actors ever, in the film] who eagerly shared his memories and old notes with him. However, before such a screenplay could be made into a film, a written consent from Queen Elizabeth was required. She said that she would prefer it to be made after her death. Therefore, the project was abandoned in 1982. After the queen died in 20 years later, it still took until he had throat cancer in 2005 before he had the inspiration to pick up the script again.

Thank God he did! Seidler won a well-deserved BAFTA and Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Awards are the most valuable when presented to such worthy nominees as David Seidler, who waited almost 40 years to get his movie made! They couldn't have been given to anyone else. But as far as well-deserved awards go, I thought that Tom Hooper did an excellent job of directing Seidler's story and that he totally deserved his Oscar as well.

Not to mention Colin Firth: the renowned British romantic comedy actor who I thought was great in Bridget Jones's Diary, but would never have imagined for such a role as the stuttering King George VI. But Lord, the guy can act! I thought that he also very much deserved his Oscar, if only for surprising us with his sudden capabilities as a serious, interesting actor.

So that is the story of The King's Speech, folks, in all of its impressive glory. Very few films these days have the quality that this one does: the depth of the story, the believable acting, and the imaginative and engaging directing. If you haven't already seen it, find a copy and watch it with Twinnings tea and dark chocolate. You will not be disappointed.

Rating: 10/10 "masterpiece"

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