“The King’s Speech”
OK, first you have to enjoy that whole British royalty thing---you
know, regal, isolated, aloof, and treated with such tremendous deference by
everyone around you that if you’re not careful you’re likely to start
believing in---divine right or something.
Colin Firth plays the Duke of York with the kind of impervious
arrogance that you would expect from a royal upbringing at the height of the
powers of the British Empire, when tiny
ruled one-fourth of the world. He’s
2nd in the line of succession, which suits him just fine----he
has a stuttering problem, and public speaking terrifies him, which
exacerbates the problem. It’s
all just too embarrassing and, well, undignified.
His wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), is so very supportive of
him, and tries to find someone---anyone—who could possibly help her
hapless husband. She stumbles
upon a commoner named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) with little pedigree and
a reputation for unorthodox methods, but a track record of success.
She brings her royal highness clandestinely to Mr. Logue’s modest
family dwelling somewhere in the bowels of
, and things do not go well. The
Prince is offput by this man’s determination to be casual, his willingness
to confront the emotions and experiences behind the stammering, and,
horrors, wagers farthings and sixpence and half-crowns to measure progress.
Much to the Prince’s astonishment, he begins to make palpable
progress. But it’s a slow,
painful progression, made more difficult by the external pressures on the
family: first his famous father
dies (the golden-tongued orator), then his wastrel older brother, instead of
just quietly having a mistress on the side like everyone else, insists on
(gulp) appearing with her at official public functions.
Not only is she a commoner, she’s twice-divorced, a known society
floozy, and an American! How
gauche can you get?
Not only that, the world is headed perilously close to the precipice
of the abyss. Hitler is gaining
power on the Continent, the English appeasement policies seem to have no
effect, because he’s not bothered by niceties like assurances of future
And just when the older brother
decides to indulge his selfish lusts and renounce both the throne and all
his inherited responsibilities, Hitler invades
. And the world is plummeted
into a War more ferocious and hellacious than any could imagine.
And here’s the newly-crowned King George VI, needing to give a
radio speech that will assure his subjects, and though he can now get the
words out, he’s still most comfortable when everyone else clears the room
and he’s just talking to his old friend, Lionel, the speech therapist.
It’s really a very touching and powerful story about the connection
between two proud and difficult men, and about the tremendously healing
power of simple friendship, and about how very much a little skillful,
persistent, caring help can go such a long way.
All those in any helping profession should note well, and take heart.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace