The King's Speech

Little to say that has not been said already. The wonderful look of the film should be reiterated. Difficult to give people talking in rooms cinematic drive, but this film (with the help of a lot of steady-cam and wide-angle lenses) does a fine job. The sparkling dialogue exchanges between Firth, Rush and Bonham Carter are also a major source of delight. Talk and visuals combine to produce a very sweet portrayal of friendship.

What interested me particularly were the existential projects of the two main characters. Lionel Logue is a failed actor turned speech therapist. It is interesting that after the King masters his speech, Lionel jokingly points out a flaw. As his patient waves to the adoring crowd, in what is quite a subtle touch, Lionel leans towards the window, trying to get a sense of the applause that he could not earn himself. It would have been interesting if the film developed this resentment a bit, give Rush an arc of his own to play with.

Firth is brilliant at doing stuck-up nervous poshos, and he's on fine form here. The conceit of the film is that this stammerer has to be the nation's spokesperson and do its PR. It's a clever move to have Bertie be confronted with footage of Hitler's rousing speeches. Wars might be fought with tanks, but they are also fought with words, and the king will have to fight this latter battle. Of necessity, a kind of monarchist tone develops from this idea: the king is a totem of the British Empire. He represents and unifies the tribe against the enemy.

To leave the film behind, one wonders where today's national totems reside, and whether we need them. In any case, the modern media have pretty much destroyed the monarchy in this respect. Which makes me think they no longer have any function left. Perhaps we can finally let them go?

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