The King's Speech
usnook | 2013-11-29 19:00

The King's Speech is a 2010 British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler. Colin Firth plays King George VI who, to cope with a stammer, sees Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush. The men become friends as they work together, and after his brother abdicates the throne, the new King relies on Logue to help him make his first wartime radio broadcast on Britain's declaration of war on Germany in 1939.

Seidler read about George VI's life after overcoming a stuttering condition he endured during his youth. He started writing about the relationship between the monarch and his therapist as early as the 1980s, but at the request of the King's widow, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, postponed work until her death in 2002. He later rewrote his screenplay for the stage to focus on the essential relationship between the two protagonists. Nine weeks before filming began, Logue's notebooks were discovered and quotations from them were incorporated into the script.

Principal photography took place in London and around Britain from November 2009 to January 2010. The opening scenes were filmed at Elland Road in Leeds, which stood in for the old Wembley Stadium. For indoor scenes, Lancaster House substituted for Buckingham Palace, and Ely Cathedral stood in for Westminster Abbey. The cinematography differs from that of other historical dramas: hard light was used to give the story a greater resonance and wider than normal lenses were employed to recreate the King's feelings of constriction. A third technique Hooper employed was the off-centre framing of characters: in his first consultation with Logue, George VI is captured hunched on the side of a couch at the edge of the frame.

Released in the United Kingdom on 7 January 2011, The King's Speech was a major box office and critical success. Censors initially gave it adult ratings due to profanity, though these were later revised downwards after criticism by the makers and distributors in the UK and some instances of swearing were muted in the US. On a budget of £8 million, it earned over $400 million internationally (£250 million). It was widely praised by film critics for its visual style, art direction, and acting. Other commentators discussed the film's representation of historical detail, especially the reversal of Winston Churchill's opposition to abdication. The film received many awards and nominations, particularly for Colin Firth's performance; his Golden Globe Award for Best Actor was the sole win at that ceremony from seven nominations. The King's Speech won seven British Academy Film Awards, including Best Picture, and Best Actor (Firth), Best Supporting Actor (Rush), and Best Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter). The film also won four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Hooper), Best Actor (Firth), and Best Original Screenplay (Seidler).

Prince Albert, Duke of York (Colin Firth), the second son of King George V, stammers through his speech closing the 1925 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Stadium. The Duke has given up hope of a cure, but his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) persuades him to see Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist in London. During their first session, Logue breaches royal etiquette and insists on calling his patient "Bertie," a name used only within the Duke's family. When Albert decides Logue's methods and manner are unsuitable, the Australian bets a shilling that the Duke can recite Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy without trouble while listening to The Marriage of Figaro played out loud on headphones. Logue records his performance on a gramophone record; convinced he has stammered throughout, Albert leaves in a huff, declaring his condition "hopeless" and dismissing Logue. Logue offers him the recording as a keepsake.

After King George V (Michael Gambon) makes his 1934 Christmas radio address, he explains to Albert the importance of broadcasting to a modern monarchy. He declares that "David" (Edward, Prince of Wales, played by Guy Pearce), Albert's older brother, will bring ruin to himself, the family, and the country when he accedes to the throne, leaving Chancellor Hitler and Premier Stalin to sort out matters in Europe. King George demands that Albert train himself, starting with a reading of his father's speech. He makes an agonising attempt to do so.

Later, Albert plays Logue's recording and hears himself unhesitatingly reciting Shakespeare. He returns to Logue, but he and his wife insist that Logue stop delving into his private life and merely work on the physical aspects. Logue teaches his patient muscle relaxation and breath control techniques, but continues to probe gently at the psychological roots of the stutter. The Duke eventually reveals some of the pressures of his childhood: his tense relationship with his unloving and strict father, the repression of his natural left-handedness, painful childhood metal splints to correct his knock-knees, long term physical abuse by his nanny, and the early death of his beloved epileptic younger brother, John. The two men become friends.

In January 1936, George V dies, and David ascends the throne as King Edward VIII, but causes a monumental crisis with his determination to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson (Eve Best), an American socialite who is still legally married to her second husband. At Christmas in Balmoral Castle, Albert points out that Edward, as head of the Church of England, cannot marry Mrs Simpson, even if she receives a divorce; Edward accuses his brother of wanting to usurp his place, citing his elocution lessons as preparation, and resurrects his childhood taunt of "B-B-B-Bertie".

At his next session, Albert expresses his frustration that his speech has improved while talking to most people—except his own brother. Albert reveals the extent of Edward VIII's folly with Mrs Simpson. When Logue insists that Albert could be a good king instead of his brother, the latter labels such a suggestion as treason, mocks Logue's failed acting aspirations and humble origins, and dismisses him. When King Edward VIII abdicates to marry Mrs Simpson, Albert becomes King George VI. The new King and Queen visit Logue at his home to apologise, startling Logue's wife (who had been kept in the dark about the patient's identity).

During preparations for his coronation in Westminster Abbey, George VI learns that Logue has no formal qualifications. Logue explains that, as an elocution teacher, he was asked to help shell-shocked Australian soldiers returning from the First World War, and thereby found his calling. When George VI remains unconvinced of his fitness to be king, Logue sits in King Edward's Chair and dismisses the underlying Stone of Scone as a trifle. Goaded by Logue's seeming disrespect, the King surprises himself with his own sudden outraged eloquence.

Upon the declaration of war with Nazi Germany in September 1939, George VI summons Logue to Buckingham Palace to prepare for his upcoming radio address to millions of listeners in Britain and the Empire. The King is left alone with Logue in the room with the microphone. He delivers his speech competently, as if to Logue alone, who guides him silently throughout. By the end of his speech, George VI is speaking freely with little to no guidance from Logue. Afterwards, the King and his family step onto the balcony of the palace to be viewed and applauded by the thousands who have gathered.

A title card explains that Logue was always present at King George VI's speeches during the war, and that they remained friends for the rest of their lives.

Awards and nominations
At the 83rd Academy Awards, The King's Speech won the Academy Award for Best Picture (Cohen), Best Director (Hooper), Best Actor (Firth), and Best Original Screenplay (Seidler). The film had received 12 Oscar nominations, more than any other film in that year. Besides the four categories it won, the film received nominations for Best Cinematography (Danny Cohen) and two for the supporting actors (Bonham Carter and Rush), as well as two for its mise-en-scène: Art Direction and Costumes.

At the 64th British Academy Film Awards, it won seven awards, including Best Film, Outstanding British Film, Best Actor for Firth, Best Supporting Actor for Rush, Best Supporting Actress for Bonham Carter, Best Original Screenplay for Seidler, and Best Music for Alexandre Desplat. The film had been nominated for 14 BAFTAs, more than any other film. At the 68th Golden Globe Awards, Firth won for Best Actor. The film won no other Golden Globes, despite earning seven nominations, more than any other film.

It is also the first Weinstein film to win the Oscar for best Picture.

At the 17th Screen Actors Guild Awards, Firth won the Best Actor award and the entire cast won Best Ensemble, meaning Firth went home with two acting awards in one evening. Hooper won the Directors Guild of America Awards 2010 for Best Director. The film won the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture at the Producers Guild of America Awards 2010.

The King's Speech won the People's Choice Award at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, Best British Independent Film at the 2010 British Independent Film Awards, and the 2011 Goya Award for Best European Film from the Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematográficas de España (Spanish Academy of Cinematic Art and Science).[

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