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01/05/2013 08:49:15 •••

A Kid's Speech

It is easy for me to recommend this film solely on enjoyable merits. The dialogue is well written and often very funny. The setting and cinematography are beautiful. The actors are all a plethora of talent, and Helena Bonham Carter surprises me by revealing how good of an actress she really is, just when I thought "creepy weird lady" was all she could do. In her role as Albert's loving wife Elizabeth, I never once doubt she was truthful when she told him, "I knew you'd be great." Colin Firth and Rush too deserve their great roles. And the climax is more tense than any film about The End Of The World As We Know It.

But I recommend the film in the support of its great story, of a man learning two lessons. One, to shoulder the duty of his community, even a community as large as the United Kingdom. Second, to expose himself. Not to be himself, and pursue self-happiness like his brother, but rather to reveal himself and his weakness so that his community will trust him.

The film's early scenes are filled with imbalance and secrets. Fog coats England and things in it emerge suddenly and then mysteriously disappear. Lionel's room is a secure place with nothing can be seen beyond its door. The composition of the shots of Albert are imbalanced; him cradling himself and backed hard against a wall, the camera reflecting that by framing him far off to the edge of the shot. He is frightened when he's exposed, and the scene of him in uniform becoming king is fraught with panic from exposure. But he learns to overcome his stuttering when he's willing to reveal a bit of himself to a friend, and thus can do so to a country. When he loses his self-consciousness, his condition diminishes along with his fear.

Being a king is a communal role, and Albert says why best: "The nation believes that when I speak, I speak for them." In his titular speech, he tells the United Kingdom, and all its colonies, that he wishes that he "were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself." And so, when Albert learns to reveal himself to other people, so they may identify with him, then he has conquered his terror. In the film's final scene, he stands exposed to all his people, but now one of them, both in health and identity.

01/05/2013 00:00:00

Great review. But he was king of the whole United Kingdom, not just England- that's the nation he's talking about. Sorry, buy people saying "England" when they mean the UK is something of a berserk button of mine.

01/05/2013 00:00:00

It's probably confusing because Albert says "the nation believes...", when the UK is several nations. Then again, I was always throughly confused by this whole England, Great Britain, UK thing, a confusion in terminology that is extremely common.

01/05/2013 00:00:00

The UK is one nation formed out of 4 distinct countries (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). They have a unified Parliament and monarchy(with some devolved local government in individual countries- the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembley etc).

As both the national Parliament and monarchy is based in England, non-Britons frequently think England refers to the whole country.

Great Britain refers to the main landmass comprising England, Scotland and Wales, hence why people often describe the UK as the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".

01/05/2013 00:00:00

As far as "the nation believes..." goes, its just one of the queer aspects of us that we're a country made up of countries. If you ask me my nationality I may answer British or Welsh depending on how I feel and both are entirely correct and appropriate

01/05/2013 00:00:00

Aaaand I was afraid I would do this. Just when I warned my students this week about not making this mistake too. Fixing it, thus.

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