January 27, 2011
Lessons from “The King’s Speech”
Everyone must see “The King’s Speech!” This is a film about courage, inner strength, perseverance and finding one’s voice and one Self. It is about showing up even in the face of overwhelming odds, and about the value of true friendship.
It’s a true story based on the life of Albert, Duke of York, who has suffered with a crippling stammer since early childhood. We find the prince being required to conquer his impediment when he is thrust into the spotlight, unexpectedly becoming the King of England. As the new King George VI, “Bertie” must transcend his fears and himself, and use his voice, via radio, to lead his people, as Britain and the world plunge into what will become World War II.
The cast excels. Colin Firth simply shows up, seamlessly integrated into the character of George VI. This is not acting. It is being, and being simply brilliant. Firth, once again, commands our respect with his trademark, understated yet evocative delivery. And Geoffrey Rush? As Lionel Rogue, Speech Therapist and “life coach” to His Majesty, Rush is delightful, intriguing and inspiring. He is such a master. Helena Bonham Carter holds her own, as the loyal and supportive wife, although there are slight moments when the edge on her voice is a bit reminiscent of Bellatrix Lestrange (of Harry Potter fame) and not the compassionate Queen Elizabeth. I would have softened her just a tad more. But all in all, she is also excellent.
David Seidler’s writing is noteworthy. It is clean and crisp, with not a wasted word. I expect this film to do very, very well on Oscar night. I give it an A+.
For me, ultimately, the movie’s success derives from its underlying message of encouragement, and inspiration, and its demonstration of self-transcendence. It is precisely the kind of movie to watch as we grapple with our own unique challenges, seek the courage and strength to uncover and express our own voices, or as we attempt to rise beyond the fears of a traumatic childhood and become the person we are meant to be.
What can we learn?
• Anything can be transcended, no matter how impossible it may seem.
I am doing a series of posts on the films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Up next: Lessons from “The Social Network.”