The King’s Speech [Rated R]

By Emma Berkel

   Historical drama in a film typically does little to rally hordes of eager viewers, and up against action, romance, as well as thrillers, it’s certainly not in the average high schooler’s top three genres. Even if it is, most would cite the intense war stories pulled from the big W’s rather than the trials of a pampered English monarchy. Yet despite this, despite all that would suggest otherwise, a humble tale of one man overcoming a speech impediment has shown itself to be nothing short of awesome.

   The King’s Speech opens by showing the stuttering horror that is Prince Albert, England’s Duke of York, delivering a speech at the 1925 British Empire Exhibition. Beginning at that seemingly hopeless starting point, the film progresses as “Bertie” is introduced to his newest speech therapist, Lionel Logue, and treated through more or less unusual means. As Logue practices with the at times perfectly unwilling Bertie, he seeks a psychological explanation for the stammer and overcomes opposition from the royal court as he is far from a royal doctor.

   All the while, the royal family itself suffers as King George V succumbs to illness and the upcoming King Edward VIII falls for a woman prohibited by royal tradition. It’s because of this drama that Bertie stands to take the throne, and with World War II on the horizon, he’d take it as a wartime king, one that must inspire his people through speech.

   Along with many a stylish shot, The King’s Speech is full of fantastic performances by its leading actors and actress, constituting Lionel (Geoffrey Rush), Bertie (Colin Firth), and Bertie’s wife, the Duchess Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter). Historical accuracy was something thoroughly considered and many of the film’s most memorable lines come straight from the notes of Lionel Logue himself. Even so, many changes were made for the sake of audience appeal. For instance, the film reduces the events’ chronology, which was actually over the course of a decade and beyond, to just a few years.

   From its opening scene onward, The King’s Speech gains a weighted importance. Suspense is built, characters masterfully crafted, and as a feature unique to all but the most stretched historical pieces, one can delight in the knowledge that those characters were once real. The story, even if predictable, is true. Award-winning and an unexpected pleasure, The King’s Speech is bound to find fans long after its premiere season.