Dear The King’s Speech,
As I sit down with you it is an uneasy meeting for me, one fraught with preconceptions and rumor. You are heralded in some circles and are an award-winner, heralded or not. I have to warn that word of one I respect highly, has declared your accolades as, undeserved. So, suffice it to say, I am a bit leery of your reputation.
And so we begin.
These accolades best a legendary Black Swan and an Inception. For me incredulity abounds but as I am introduced to the portrayers of your story, the quality is apparent. It starts as a slow and subtle tale in which depth and nuance lures me in. The setting prior to World War II is undoubtedly imposing and the nature of the issue you face and the fact that you are royalty is also daunting. However, one thing is instantly apparent; Firth steps easily into your portrayal and becomes the man he needs to be. The others support him naturally and add a real world depth to his environment. As events with you unfold the depth of your problem is unearthed and it is wrenching in its impact on how the world perceives you and how you perceive yourself. As I meet your savior, Mr. Lionel Logue, the layers of the onion peel back and I start to see the anger the frustration and scorn you mostly bear quite magnanimously. The saving grace in your mind is even though you are royalty you are sure you wont have to sit the throne with Edward so clearly in line. Even your wife Elizabeth comments on how on top of loving you it wasn’t likely you would ascend the throne with a stammer like yours and so the responsibility of the crown wouldn’t have to be dealt with. But as with the best laid plans of kings and men …
So, who knew your brother would take up with that American woman and it would all come down to you, particularly at one of the most critical times in your country’s history. As the grueling work to find and correct the triggers and underlying causes of your stammer continues, your mettle is unearthed and a bond between Lionel and yourself is formed. As your therapist prepares you for your momentous oration to the country all your old doubts and worries arise and it is not clear that you can rise to the occasion of your coronation let alone the speech that will define you in the world’s eyes. But what dawns on me is that this is no longer a singular effort and perhaps for the first time as you navigate the throne you realize that you are not alone. Your support system is all around you. It is the words of encouragement from your wife and staff and the looks of love from your daughters and ultimately it is in the unwavering support of Lionel who’s indomitable will refuses to let you entertain the remotest possibility of failure and who is by your side for the entire speech.
And it is a remarkable speech on film as it was when it was first uttered lo those many years past. As you navigate the minefield of oration in a way you were never able to before there comes from you a careful and steadfast language that makes clear each word is chosen with the utmost care and this majestic patience is what rivets me and rivets a country about to shortly see the gates of hell open into their mundane existence. It is powerful and it is history. This achievement stands beside all the great wartime speeches from even your contemporary Winston Churchill.
Now that we see the obstacles and issues behind your effort the achievement is made even more profound. It is made profound by effort and history. This is what in essence actually makes you a great story in the end, it is history. If this were a fiction and not about a real man in a real situation that cant be denied, would I call you best film and best everything else you were lauded with? No. But this is real, it is you and it happened and what you did after even all the events of this portrayal make it all the more remarkable and sort of seals the weight of this movie.
So when I was ready to refute you, I came away unable. Could I pick out why you were unworthy for all that praise you received. No again. Would I have chosen you to give my vote? Perhaps not. But ultimately, I cant fault others for calling you best of year and I do know there is one Geoffrey Rush that should have seen Best supporting and didn’t and that is the one injustice I spot in the praise. Fare thee well, I am sure we will meet again.
With Respect and undeniable admiration