King’s Speech Leaves You Speechless

By Carol Montana

Were the title not already spoken for, the multi-award winning film The King’s Speech might have been called The Agony and the Ecstasy, so well is the angst, struggle and hard work depicted. But that’s just as well, because the actual title is much more indicative of the focus of the movie.

The film opens with a crisis as Prince Albert (Colin Firth) has to make a speech at the closing of the 1925 Empire Exhibition. Our first glimpse of the prince (a.k.a. the Duke of York) is not encouraging. He stammers something fearful. It is hard to watch. His personality is not much better. He is shy, retiring and diffident.

Encouraged by his sympathetic wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), Albert seeks the advice of various speech teachers. One suggests that he smoke to relax the throat; another puts sterilized marbles in his mouth.Frustrated beyond belief, Albert swears off further therapy.

But Elizabeth, determined to help her husband overcome his disability, goes to see Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian immigrant with a rather unorthodox method of treating speech problems.

Prince Albert acquiesces to his wife, and, at their first meeting, Albert and Lionel get acquainted in a comical scene that gives welcome relief from the tension we’ve seen since the beginning of the story. Throughout the speech therapy, which is sometimes funny, often heartbreaking, Lionel gradually gains Albert’s trust as he digs, not unobtrusively, into the cause of the stammer.

Little crises build into big ones as Albert’s older brother, the carefree, fun-loving and irresponsible Prince David (Guy Pearce) ascends to the throne as Prince Edward VIII upon the death of his father, George V (Michael Gambon). But then, of course, Edward abdicates in 1936 in order to marry Wallis Simpson, American socialite and divorcée.

Suddenly, Prince Albert is the King of England and, as the country approaches involvement in World War II, the stammering prince, now King George VI, must rally his country behind him as a strong, regal and well-spoken leader.

The King’s Speech has already won numerous awards, including the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival People’s Choice Award, Best-Produced film from the Producer’s Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, Outstanding Performance by a Cast, and is a nominee for 12 Academy Awards, including   Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has nominated The King’s Speech for 14 awards, including  Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Leading Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. 

Firth is nothing short of marvelous as Prince Albert, conveying every stammer, every pain-filled syllable with gut-wrenching angst.

As Lionel Logue, Geoffrey Rush is a true delight: irreverent, talented, unimpressed with royalty to the point of rudeness, yet so sure of his methods that he’s willing to take bets on the outcome.

Helena Bonham Carter, as Albert’s desperate yet tender wife, exudes the quiet support and fiercely protective instincts one expects of royalty, and the strength and determination one expects of a lover.

Other performances are equally strong. Guy Pearce as Edward is flighty, devil-may-care, and more involved with pleasing himself than with any supposed loyalty to the monarchy. And  the irrepressible Derek Jacobi as the Archbishop of Canterbury is always fun to watch as he struts and preens in his self-important way.

Ignore the R rating (imposed because of obscenities Logue uses to relieve Albert’s tension). Young people have no doubt heard those words and worse. Take them to see a wonderful story that roars full speed toward a triumph of the human spirit.

Written by David Seidler and directed by Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech, based on a true story and historically accurate to a fault, is so well acted and put together, so well written and directed that it seriously will leave you speechless.

Guest writer Carol Montana is a writer, photographer, proofreader and copy editor. A casualty of the 2007 job cuts at The Times Herald-Record, she is currently  co-editor of The Catskill Chronicle,  an online newspaper that publishes information about Sullivan County and the surrounding areas (  She has a Master’s Degree in Dramatic Form and Structure from The University of Connecticut. In 1995, she founded Big Sky Productions, a community-based theatre company that operates out of Grahamsville, NY.

Carol can be reached at


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