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The King’s Speech (from my archives)

Since I’d heard such high praise for The King’s Speech and I knew what it was about, I figured I’d enjoy this movie, but not be blown away. Well, it is a terrific movie so it does succeed in living up to high expectations.

As I knew, it’s the story of Prince (later King) Albert, whose speech impediment is a curse considering he’s a royal and even the second son needs to make speeches on occasion. The film closely tracks Bertie’s struggles and his relationship with a controversial, unorthodox speech therapist. During this era stronger stories and persons fill the history books: Prince Edward whose romance with Mrs. Simpson can easily fascinate and Winston Churchill are off to the side in this story, though in history they are front and center. As a history buff, I enjoyed seeing this small story told well. We get caught up in Bertie’s struggle and admire him for persevering. Lionel, his therapist, gets to push and prod royalty, which is like dancing in a mine field. He always respects Bertie, but knows that brutal honesty is needed for success with this patient.

The script is spare, very Aristotelean, I’d say as it focuses on the primary relationships and we root for Bertie to face his demons and disability. Helena Bonham-Carter plays Prince Albert’s wife with understatement and loyalty. Though I did wonder how they got together and how she saw past Bertie’s stutter when they first met. The only actor I didn’t like played Winston Churchill. Granted, that’s a hard role as Churchill had such a strong persona overacting is a real danger. Luckily, Churchill’s not on screen much.

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