Sunday, 16 January 2011

The King's Speech in The King's Road

George VIWell, Saturday's plan went smoothly. What was fun part way through was seeing a genuinely enjoyable film which created much positive audience reaction and then, at the end, as the titles rolled, hearing loud spontaneous applause from the audience.

We'd visited the Chelsea Cinema in the King's Road. It's the one that quite often shows European films and looks quite unlike most multiplexes, with its very wide seating area, convenient bar and somewhat 1970's styling.

The film we'd been watching was "The King's Speech" - about the yet to be King George VI breaking past his speech impediment in the stormy times that led to him becoming King.

The film opens showing Bertie (Colin Firth) struggling and stuttering to make a radio broadcast and being criticised for it by his father King George V. By contrast, his highly self-confident older brother David (Guy Pearce) seemed to have a social world at his fingertips.

The story showed the attempts of Bertie to break past his stutter, led by the efforts of his wife (Helena Bonham-Carter), who introduced him to the non-nonsense and somewhat eccentric instruction of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). There's some great Royalty meets Commoner scenes which created much laughter in the cinema.

Meanwhile those partying fingertips of David were never far from Baltimore socialite Wallace Simpson, although its not entirely clear that she was only within one man's grasp.

History tells of the death of George V, which made David the new King Edward VIII. He didn't make it to be crowned though, staying as monarch for less than a year, because of his wish to marry Wallace Simpson which created the basis for his abdication.

The reluctant Bertie was instead to be crowned as the new King. Albert couldn't be the name - it sounded too Germanic, so George VI was chosen to create continuity with his father. Luckily most of the Royals have plenty of spare names.

The story continues with the lead up to the Coronation and the see-sawing improvements of the to-be King's speech in the time when much of Europe was preparing for World War II.

I enjoyed a well-told and engaging story, with much delicate humour as well as a sense of the dark times ahead as George VI prepared for a reign which would run the course of the second world war.

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