Thoughts on The King's Speech, One Year Later

I was happy to confirm my admiration for The King’s Speech after viewing it a second time. My first viewing was a special experience, for sure. I had the fortune to see it at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, and Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Tom Hooper were there to take questions. Not only was I able to witness the rapturous reception to the film before all the Oscar buzz began (the audience burst into applause several times during the movie, and topped it off with a standing ovation at the end), but I was also privy to the director and lead actors’ answers, which were mostly enlightening (e.g. some of the wittiest lines are the real King George’s, transcribed in Lionel Logue’s notes).

After a second, more-subdued home viewing, I still consider the film a rousing success. The screenplay, direction, acting, cinematography, and editing are uniformly excellent.

Indeed, the film’s well-rounded excellence reminds me of another Oscar-winner: The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Before you write off my comparison as absurd, note the awards each film received: Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Writing (King’s Speech won Original Screenplay; Lambs won Screenplay Based on Previous Material, and also Best Actress). More importantly, though, both The King’s Speech and The Silence of the Lambs have, at their centre, intimate conversations/sessions between the two main characters: Bertie and Lionel in the former, Clarice and Lector in the later. Also strikingly similar is the subjective camera work in each film. Many shots are taken from either the point of view of one of the two major characters, or facing one of the two characters straight on, with he or she looking into the camera. This technique strengthens the audience’s connection with the two major characters in each film. This is one of the reasons we become so involved in these characters.

I am now confident that The King’s Speech will comfortably enter the canon of great films, and not fade into obscurity or breed future resentment like certain other Best Pictures. (Can you guess which ones I’m talking about?)

The King’s Speech (UK, 2010)

Directed by Tom Hooper; screenplay by David Seidler; starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter.