Alright, I just have to wade into the movies for a day, because I saw The King’s Speech the other night. It is terrific.
The screenplay absolutely sparkles. (I laughed so hard that I will have to see it a second time to pick up the lines I missed as I chortled away.) It is one of the few movies I’ve attended where the theatre audience applauded at the end. (I think the last one was the first Rocky.)
Colin Firth is amazing. Geoffrey Rush, as Lionel Logue, steals almost every scene. And Helena Bonham Carter is the Queen Mother, portraying a woman as charming in her youth as I remember her in old age. (Hers, that is. Not mine.)
What a treat it was to see all three of these superb actors in some of the scenes at the same time. It made it impossible to know which one to watch, each one of them was so good.
The charming, witty and intelligent script was written by David Seidler, a man who success had long eluded. At the request of the Queen Mother, he had to wait until she died before he could proceed. (And who knew she’d live to be 101?) That strikes me as a backstory in itself. How did he get to know her? Why did she not want the story told?
As an author, I was interested in the plot device Seidel used. (Remember, screen-writing is still writing a story, and the need for character, plot, and dialogue are as important as in any other manuscript.)
The relationship between Logue, as a speech therapist and his patient (or ‘pupil’, as he preferred) was his focus. It became the funnel through which world events emerge.
The chemistry between those characters makes us care about the larger events that are unfolding around them. War looms; Hitler’s forces are gathering. The British people have an almost desperate need in the midst of that uncertainty to have a leader who can connect with them, inspire them to cope with the inevitable losses, explain the necessity of the hardships they will endure, and give them the hope that it will be worth it, that they will succeed. In other words, someone who can speak to them.
All of which culminates in the King’s speech to his people. A lovely double entendre. It is a magnificent movie.
If Firth, Rush and Bonham Carter don’t get Oscars for best actor and best supporting actor/actress, I’ll weep. And I’ll probably cry when they win, too.
But I sure hope Seidler takes best screenplay. It’s his words and his imagination that enabled these characters to step off the pages as people we wanted to root for, as people we wanted to know. Felt we did know.
One of my favourite parts of the movie is this exchange between the future King, Bertie, and Logue. Logue is a man determined to set his own rules within his own four walls, regardless of who his pupil may be. He’s not a licenced doctor. And with a few words, and great humour, Seidel conveys how Logue feels about that, and about them.
Bertie starts to light a cigarette from a silver case.
LIONEL Don’t do that.
Bertie gives him an astonished look.
BERTIE I’m sorry?
LIONEL Sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you.
BERTIE My physicians say it relaxes the throat.
LIONEL They’re idiots.
BERTIE They’ve all been knighted.
LIONEL Makes it official then. My castle, my rules.
The entire screenplay is available online. Read it and admire Seidler’s considerable skill. It’s story-telling at its very best. Pure genius. And then if you haven’t gone yet, go see this fine movie. And make sure that, at the end, you applaud.