100 Film Favorites Countdown – #99: The King’s Speech
(Tom Hooper, 2010)
This is one of the most recent films on the list, and is likely to climb in ranking with time. Chances are The King’s Speech is familiar to a lot of you, seeing as it was the 2010 Best Picture winner, so I won’t bog you down with an overlong plot summary. Actually, the film’s title gives a pretty good idea of the plot: A king has to make a speech. Specifically, the recently-crowned King George VI, who has long suffered from a severe stammer, must address his empire on the eve of the Second World War, and calls on the services of speech therapist Lionel Logue to help improve his elocution.
This film taught me (and probably a lot of Americans) a lot more about the British royal family than I had previously known. It also taught me that there’s a lot I still don’t understand. The film opens with text about “King George V’s second son, the Duke of York” giving a speech which is being broadcast over radio. My first thoughts were, “Wait, if he’s the King’s son, wouldn’t that make him a Prince? Where do Dukes come into it? And isn’t it supposed to be the King making the speech?” The fact is, I’m still not quite sure where Dukes come into it, but the film does provide captivating insight into the lives of the generation of royals prior to Her (current) Majesty, Elizabeth II.
The highlight of the film is the powerhouse performances given by the trio of leading actors: Colin Firth as the titular speech-making King, Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, and Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth, who would later be known as the Queen Mother. The montage sequence of the three interacting during Logue’s therapy sessions is especially memorable, and serves to showcase some of Logue’s quirky teaching techniques, as well as his growing bond with the King.
All in all, the film is an entertaining and informative look at some historical figures many Americans may not know a lot about. It’s well written, well acted, well shot, and well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. I personally was glad to see it win Best Picture. Others may have different opinions, but this is MY Countdown, from MY Facebook pseudo-blog. So nyeh. I genuinely enjoyed it, and you may well, too.
-This was one of the first foreign / “independent” films I saw in a movie theater (I caught it at $5 movie night at the Newtown cinema during Sinfonicron 2011). Going to see an independent film in theaters is an unusual experience, because it’s the only way you’re going to see trailers for other independent films, unless you specifically seek them out. You sit down for the previews, and are presented with trailers for a half-dozen films you may literally never hear about again. It really served to highlight the difference between the pervasiveness of Hollywood marketing and…any other kind of film marketing.
-One of the best by-products of this film is the following remix by YouTube maestro SwedeMason. Mason takes clips from films (and often British TV shows), and transmogrifies them into catchy techno “songs.” This one is an especially virulent earworm…but try to resist the urge to sing it at work. I present to you “Well Bugger to You, You Beastly Bastard.” [Careful – NSFW for language]: