Aaah ! Those Ole Days, Would That We Lived in Them Today!

| January 25, 2011 | Comments (2)

Halfway through the superbly acted and brilliantly crafted film,  The  King’s Speech, I found my mind wandering as I asked myself: how long can I focus  on a plot-line about somebody stuttering, even if it is the future King of England?

Not being a speech therapist or a rabid fan of the Royals – in fact, I rather detest them for the over-privileged, free-loading twits they are since they hounded  Princess Diana to her death – I was prepared to forego seeing the movie.  But  then opinion, that  all-powerful  dictator of human behavior, moved me to catch it in matinee today.   The film had received rave reviews and everybody I knew  loved it. If  I didn’t see it, how else could I counter the glowing reports of my friends, especially R from Vermont, who waxed rhapsodic over the charms and dramatic skills of Helen Bonham-Carter ?

But back to the tongue-tied Duke of York, later to become George VI. He came across to me as a rather pathetic mediocrity  whose best friends were his nannies who brought  him in for the  “daily viewing ” by his parents,  George V and Queen Mary. The opinion of historians and Royal Watchers is that his ill-fated brother,  Edward VIII, would have made a  more empathetic and progressive-minded monarch.  In his early adulthood, the Prince of Wales  had displayed a radically sympathetic view towards the working-classes and was wildly popular when he ascended the throne for his all-too-brief reign. Had it not been for that lady from Baltimore who had learned some “techniques” at an “an institution in Shanghai” (the mind boggles at  just what Wallis  picked up in that naughty city!), there would have been no George VI.

I could not help but think, at the film’s  climax, as  the newly crowned George VI, aided by his speech therapist, plodded through his address to  his subjects announcing the outbreak of World War II, how  much simpler times were then and how much more daunting are the challenges faced by our superbly articulate leader,  President Barack Obama, as he readies himself for his speech to the nation in a few hours.

As the Chinese say, we do live in more  “interesting times” today, even though Helen Bonham-Carter made it seem otherwise!

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Comments (2)

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  1. Roger Cranse says:

    Ah, yes, a film distinguished by its superb script, acting, and cinematography rather than plot complexity. Still, I can sit back and be transported without a lot of critical faculties intervening. In other words, I’m a movie junkie. I do wish they had had one final scene: the King walking through the ruined streets of London during the blitz rallying his subjects. His real leadership emerged there. I think that 30 second scene would have rounded the movie perfectly. RC

    • Sam says:

      Roger’s suggestion for a more inspired ending to The King’s Speech is very apt. Such an ending would have given King George VI the gravitas he deserved.

      I must say my own faculties of judgement for reviewing films are flawed and perhaps too clouded by emotion and association.

      Emotion, in my basic dislike of most of the Royals (the current exceptions being HM, the Queen and Prince William); and association in my linking actors with earlier roles they have played.

      In The King’s Speech, I found it very disconcerting to see the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, played by “Sebastian”, the actor who had portrayed the lead in Brideshead Revisited. I couldn’t get my mind off Sebastian and his Teddy Bear!

      And, to me, Edward VIII’s credibility was severely diminished by the actor who played him. Said gent had acted the part of an outrageous drag queen in “To Wang Foo with Love, Julie Newmar.”

      I’d better stop attempting to review films.

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