The Academy Awards has chosen to nominate “The King’s Speech” in 12 categories, including Best Picture. The acting in “The King’s Speech” is outstanding. Colin Firth is to be congratulated for his Jan. 17 Golden Globe Best Actor Award. The sets, the music, the wardrobes and the intermix of newsreels in this film are accomplished. We learn a bit of history, too.
But is it also a great story?
Prince Albert (aka Bertie), brilliantly played by Colin Firth, becomes King George VI. He is depicted as a royal who suffers from fears and anger as well as hubris and a speech impediment.
Yes, the prince stammers, practically paralyzing his ability to communicate. However, the film also shows him refusing a treatment, discovered by his wife, because he is too proud to submit to therapy requirements.
His speech teacher expects him to not only develop confidence in his own ability to overcome his impediment, but to trust his instructor. But Bertie’s greater impediment, arrogance, is an obstacle, an impregnable granite wall, that looms in his way even after a first success. He doesn’t want to address the roots of his problem so he keeps a superior distance from the one man who insists that they must interact with each other as equals in order for the treatment to work.
However laudatory the acting, the music, the setting, the period costumes, and the historical documentation, this story is no “Gandhi,” “Ben Hur” or “ Schindler’s List.”
I’m just not gripped by the haughtiness of a figurehead king whose entire family lives a flagrantly extravagant lifestyle in the midst of The Great Depression. The common person overcomes greater challenges in the face of greater adversities.
There are social challenges like poverty, abuse, neglect, mental ineptitude, emotional fragility, ugliness, obesity, racial/religious stigmatism and so on. Then there are all the handicaps like blindness, deaf-blindness, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, deafness, mental challenges, and physical debilitation. Add to that all the kinds of mental illnesses. Many of those who suffer from these trials have few resources, yet some, through tremendous drive, humility and courage, forge on to overcome, or at least adapt to, their obstacles. Those are the better stories.
Many predict that “The King’s Speech” will win the Oscar. It’s a nice film, but its golden goblet challenges are not on the same scale as many of this year’s more risky, insightful independent and foreign films.
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