Screen Comment / SAÏDEH PAKRAVAN

Yes, I know. “The King’s Speech” has been called yet another period piece in the Masterpiece Theatre mold or a glorified “Upstairs, Downstairs,” the upstairs being the British Royals and the downstairs the commoners, including physicians who tend to said Royals. And yes, the story is predictable and we know how it ends. Yet, and this is a huge yet, “The King’s Speech” is much more than the sum of its parts and much above the [few] disdainful comments of critics. It is a simply magnificent movie.


By now, everyone knows the story line of this unexpected and major Oscar contender which has already won scores of other awards including the Golden Globe for Colin Firth as best actor. In 1936, King Edward VII (an excellent turn by Guy Pearce) announces, astoundingly, that he abdicates in order to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced Baltimore socialite. The crown goes to his brother the Duke of York who will go down in history as George VI. Not only is he ill-equipped for this responsibility, not only are the times particularly trying—with Hitler’s rattling sword soon to shatter Europe—but the new and unwilling king has since childhood been afflicted with a stammer, rendering him insecure and afraid of the public eye. Becoming a fluent and articulate speaker acquires particular urgency after his brother abdicates. Long before there was any question of him succeeding his brother, he had sought help with this ... >>>

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