cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 12:55am on 27/02/2011 under ,
Upon learning that [ profile] esrblog had no objection to seeing The King's Speech, and having no more pressing engagements, we trundled out into the cold to see that honorable Oscar contender.

There's no real way to emit spoilers for this movie, because the plot is historical; it's about the struggles of Britain's King George VI ("George"), father of the present monarch, to deal with his stammer.

The story itself is moving; I wept several times during the picture. But what impressed me more than the story was the stunning quality of historical re-creation that the movie manages. With regard to costume, furnishings, speech, and mannerisms, the movie makes True Grit feel like a cartoon evocation of history--and that movie's historicity was impressive. The King's Speech so convincingly showed us bits and scenes from George VI's life that watching it occasionally felt, to me, as though I had blundered into a private royal conversation, and would at any moment be ordered to leave, if not carted away in handcuffs.

The historical period and place involved, Great Britain from 1925 to the beginning of World War II in 1939, is not my favorite historic period, and for that reason I don't know as much about it as perhaps I should, but I know a little, enough to be aware that the movie makers not only found great actors who gave great performances, but in many cases cast, dressed, and schooled actors into amazingly accurate doppelgangers of their historic counterparts. In particular, Guy Pearce as Edward VIII, George's brother; Eve Best, as Wallis Simpson, the woman Edward chose to marry instead of keeping his throne; Helena Bonham Carter, as Elizabeth, George's wife, Michael Gambon, as King George V George's father, and Claire Bloom as George's mother, Queen Mary, manage stunning feats of physical verisimilitude. Interestingly, I don't think Colin Firth, who played George VI himself, looks a lot like that king--but he managed the king's archetypal expression, as shown in the photos in the Wikipedia article about George brilliantly.

[ profile] esrblog, for his part, thought the movie was more of a character study of a society than a character study of any particular people per se. I think he's right to a degree. But what is truly amazing is the solid genuineness of a movie that had, as a strong sub-theme, the idea that the king could conquer his problems with speech only by learning the skills of an actor. Does being genuine really require that much skill and artifice? Maybe. And that's probably true of the movie too. To me, watching this movie felt like I was looking through a window at 1930's Britain. But in truth what I was watching was an incredible artifice, created by the efforts of hundreds, maybe thousands of people--an artifice larger than life. Maybe the movie had to be larger than life, just to convey to us, living nearly 100 years later, what living in the 1930's must have been like to the people living then. By learning the nuts and bolts of public speaking and conquering his stammer, King George himself became larger than life, and assumed his final place in history.

I wonder if Queen Elizabeth II has watched this film about her father, and, if she did, whether she wept when she watched it.
Mood:: 'thoughtful' thoughtful


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