Thursday, February 03, 2011

The King's Speech review

I have finally watched The King's Speech, but not in the cinema. ;-) Here is my review:

The most interesting aspect for me was the relationship between the two men. Showing how even the king is very human and mortal. The movie was also interesting in playing with the class system that reigned in those days. But in a sense the movie also degraded the king. They applauded him for reading a speech that was written by other people. If I were king and people applauded me, I would be thinking: God Tom you are such a looser when people already get excited when you read a prepared speech!

I am not convinced that all the words put into the mouth of historical figures are very accurate, and could easily give a wrong view on history. I am also not convinced that Churchill told him about his speech impediment. I think the script would have benefited from leaving out a portrayal of Miss Simpson and Churchill.

In terms of the handicap arising from stuttering, the movie did an excellent job. Only a person who stutters/ed like David Seidler could have written such a script.
Colin Firth did a good acting job, though I kind of felt the stuttering came across as a bit fake to me. What I liked most was the first-person experience of giving a speech where everyone listens. I, and I am sure the audience, shared the embarrassment, and were waiting with the king to see when the next word would come out. I had exactly that experience, thus now that I am doing Toastmasters, it's exactly the opposite.

Moreover, I didn't feel intellectually inspired in any way, or did I feel that I now see a new perspective of life. I guess that's probably because I stutter, and I don't learn anything new. I was of course deeply unhappy with the allusions to "many stutterers were forced to change writing hands", "children never stutter when they first speak", and so on. That's all non-sense. OK, you can argue that the movie reflects the spirit of the times. I would have taken those lines out of the script. They don't add to the core dynamics of the movie.

Finally, I really loved the Archbishop's attitude to get a "real professional" to help the king, or the doctor with the pebbles. Did David Seidler take a swipe at the "professionally trained speech therapists" that "helped" him overcome his stuttering. 80 years ago or now, they are not that much different. Few people who stutter didn't waste time being treating by a professional professional. They just do what the time spirit tells them to do with not much further thought. Logue at least tried to do what he empirically found to work, even if his theories were not valid. He is the 1930's version of Bodehammer or Harrison: charismatic, empirically based, but hopelessly crackpot thinking in terms of theory and science.

The movie is not one of my best movies. But for the stuttering community, it's a gift sent by God. The King's Speech will become part of our main-stream culture, and shows what it's like to stutter. The audience left the cinema and were thinking to themselves: God, I am so lucky that I don't stutter.


Konstantin said...

Wow, Colin Firth should consider himself lucky you are not deciding who will win the Oscar.

The audience left the cinema and were thinking to themselves: God, I am so lucky that I don't stutter.

How the hell do you know this? Did you speak to a sample of the audience?

Let us make a poll: How many of your readers thought "God, I am so lucky I am not blind/schizophrenic" after watching "Scent of a woman"/"A beautiful mind"?

As for me, I felt empathy with the characters but I also felt empowered from their strength. The last thought that would cross my mind is to feel some kind of pity for their problems and be thankful I am not like them.

Nathan said...

A Beautiful Mind is my favorite movie! I thought that if the average person had schizophrenia, their life would be over. It's a statement of John Nash's character (and genius). I have yet to see The Kings Speech, but I think the movie says something about the character of people who stutter and became successful despite more than I am so lucky I don't stutter.

Ideally, the realistic portrayal of stuttering will generate respect for PWS rather than assuming they are intelligent, lazy, etc.

Anonymous said...

What a moronic "review". I am sure every single person left that theater thanking God they didn't stutter. You aren't too bright are ya.

mimimichael said...

I enjoy your blog Tom! I've been reading for the past few weeks.

I agree with some of your thoughts on the film, especially that it has been a God-send in educating the public about stuttering/stammering. I also agree with your positive critique of the script.

However, I thought Colin Firth did an excellent job of portraying not only the physical characteristics of stammering, but also the inner turmoil experienced by people who stammer/stutter.

I have more thoughts on this that can be seen at

Keep doing what you're doing Tom!