Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oscar's Best Picture Nominee: The King's Speech
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Produced by: Iain Canning, Emilie Sherman, Gareth Unwin

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95%

Synopsis: . His Royal Highness Prince Albert, Duke of York (Colin Firth) has to overcome his insecurities to deal with what his royal duties imposes on him but the greatest impediment to his public duties is his speech impediment. He must deal with his stammering first in order to face the challenges imposed by the Abdication of his brother, the former Prince of Wales, and ultimately leading his country to war against Hitler as King George VI. This is the story of how "Bertie" found a way to overcome his speech impediment and most especially, found himself a friend.

His Royal Highness Prince Albert, Duke of York stammers. He can't even say a sentence in a single blow that is why he was left standing behind the microphone on his first broadcast-- leaving him humiliated in front of his father's people. In the first scene, I cannot help but to sympathize to the stammering and the sense of desperation is obvious in the face of the Duke and the Duchess (Helena Bonham Carter. Yes, Bellatrix Lestrange). This leads to the therapy sessions with Lionel Logue, which is so confident of his methods that he even insisted to be in first-name basis with the Prince-- a serious protocol breach.This device to create the equality inside the confines of Logue's consultation room works in two different levels: One it establishes the authority of Logue from the Duke's behavior and as a presage to a relationship deeper than a doctor-patient corroboration.

It is hard enough for Bertie to become a stammering prince, so what more when his brother abdicated the throne (King Edward, played by ) and the royal duties to become a King and Emperor of the British Empire would be too much for him? It was explained that the stammering is acquired (Prince Albert does not stammer when he talks to himself) and it roots from his strict controlling father (portrayed by Michael Gambon) and on how his defects were corrected. He was forced to be a right-handed and forced to wear painful metal splints to correct his bow knees.

The therapy sessions involves series of motor exercises which includes rolling and waltzing and shouting in the window. It is an unusual method and it was revealed the Lionel was not a medical doctor but a failed actor who treated shell-shocked victims form World War I. This confrontation, the climax of the movie, revealed the strengths of both actors as they deliver the lines so powerfully that it doesn't just evoke the confirmation of the success of the therapy (King George said, without stammering, "I have voice") but also a sense of release not only from the insecurities of Prince Albert but also on the superficial protocols. This had me a change of heart and now I am for Colin Firth for the Best Actor award (Sorry James Franco, you are still hot anyway).

Again, subtleties works best for me. What strikes me the most are several explanations of the current behavior of the present monarchs. For one, during a scene where the Princesses of York (the future Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret Countess of Snowdon) asked the Duke to tell them a story. This particular scene reminds me of the movie The Queen starring Hellen Mirren where it was shown the Queen's love for dogs (there are dogs beside the Princesses). Another thing is about how the Duchess (Bellatrix Lestrange for Best Supporting Actress!) strict abidance of the protocol (obviously manifested by her partiality towards Wallis Simpson, and the scene with Myrtle Logue when she teaches Mrs Logue on how to address her). This reminds me of an anecdote I read about the Countess of Snowdon and her very strict nature when it comes to protocol (it must be noted that the young Princess Margaret calls her father Your Majesty in the film). Indeed, the late Princess must be inherited these behavior from her mother.

I am always amazed by the intricacies of the british monarchy---especially it's complex protocols most specifically in the title and styles. The British Monarchy is the most interesting family for me, having ruled in an unbroken chain for centuries. With The Other Boleyn Girl, The Queen, and The Young Princess on my movie repertoire, The King's Speech is yet another great addition to the history of motion picture as it is compelling and inspiring at the same time.

Other Oscar Nominations:
Best Actor (Colin Firth)
Best Supporting Actor (Geoffrey Rush)
Best Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter)
Best Director (Tom Hooper)
Best Film Editing (Tariq Anwar)
Best Art Direction (Eve Stewart. Judy Farr)
Best Costume Design (Jenny Beaver
Best Sound Mixing (Paul Hambling, Martin Jensen, John Midgeley)
Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat)
Best in Cinematography (Danny Cohen)
Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler)
***Note: TKS has the most nominations for this year's Oscar's

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