Movie Review: The King’s Speech

Colin Firth, welcome to the big time. You are a magnificent actor and we expect you to rise to great heights from now on. No more Bridget Jones for you. Those days are over. Sure, there were signs (Pride and Prejudice), but nothing like the incredible breadth of this role and nothing as difficult to bring to us. Your performance in The King’s Speech is Oscar worthy, and perhaps even more important, worthy of being used as a teaching tool to help the public understand the pain of speech impediments for years to come.

Ok, Geoffrey Rush was amazing as well, but I have come to expect him to be. And Helen Bonham Carter was wonderfully stoic as the King’s supportive and kindly wife, but she needs to re-evaluate her real-life husband choices for me to go much further than that. A supportive wife who has no soul for her own life just doesn’t get many words for me. It’s my review, and I get to focus on Colin, whom I feel I have seen on the screen for the first time.

Acting aside, history teachers in middle schools across the land should insist that their students watch this film, as well as the others I reviewed this week. Let’s all remember that greatness is in each of us and can be brought out with hard work and commitment to our responsibilities, whether we choose it or not. You gotta give that to the Royal Family; they give it up for the greater good of their country’s traditions even though they now have less power than they used to.

I have always believed that if history were taught from a sociological point of view, or through personal stories, rather than war to war, battle to battle, we would have a different future. The curriculum for history was set up many hundreds of years ago, when men went to school and women didn’t. They needed to learn to fight wars, because that was what they were going to be doing. To change all that, we need to teach history differently. I’m not sure this paragraph belongs in this review, but I think it’s a cornerstone of my belief in education, so I’m throwing it in for your consideration.

Who knew that George VI was so amazing? I’ve never particularly considered any of the Windsors extraordinary, but he seems to have been. And the young Elizabeth, now Queen of England, had a childhood that she chose not to pass to her own children (that is, if the movie accurately represents the past). And who knew that Wallis and her husband the Duke of York were such jerks? I knew he gave it all up for love, and when I looked at pictures and film of them I wondered what that was all about. But let’s face it, who cared?

I also knew the King had a speech impediment. I just forgot, or never really understood what it meant. The pressure on the man even without an impediment would have been tremendous. War. Hitler. Sacrifice. Not prepared to be on the throne. A ne’er-do-well brother. To have to add to that pressure a stumbling block in communicating, one that must have appeared to be as big as the Himalayas, must have been monumental. And so lonely. You feel his isolation as he stands before the stadium of embarrassed people in front of a blinking red light representing the millions who were trying to hang on every word. Words that just weren’t coming out.

I love that so many movies now do the history thing for us. Watching history told through the stories of the people who lived it really brings it home. I love movies like Made in Dagenham, Secretariat, and Mao’s Last Dancer, to name a few. Bring these films to the schools and put them on cable for the world to see. They’re so much stronger than the reality TV that has taken over. Why shouldn’t we show these films instead of reality shows and see if they can’t take off. Let’s face it, I’d rather follow King George’s life on TV than that woman who had eight kids, divorced her husband, and ended up on Dancing with the Stars. Her name escapes me, and it is not worth looking up.

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