[This review is for the theatrical release.]
The King's Speech was surprisingly good! I was surprised because usually these historic dramas tend to be dry & boring with only a history aficionado really appreciating the time period shown or the characters being presented, whether in good light or bad.
The film does not concentrate on the whole of history or England's errors and falling into war against Germany and I'm glad it does not. That's been done. It's a story of a reluctant prince and later, a reluctant king who through good luck or bad, and thanks to the support of his sympathetic wife, comes upon an Australian speech therapist.
Except this speech therapist has been trained in the "school of hard knocks" during the First World War. His techniques are unusual and usually very effective. His most effective method is to make friends with his patient. But how do you make friends with a monarch?
If you've any training at all in film technique, you will be amazed at the tension drawn with angles, cuts and positioning. "Bertie" (the prince) is almost always presented in the lower left of the screen and Logue is almost always placed at the right, in an unusual display that draws the eye to a corner of the screen. This is a visual representation of the tension between the two characters which is quite amazing and not a technique you normally see in modern films, as you would in the old Hollywood films. It was refreshing to see.
The subplots are all suppressed in favor of the story between reluctant friends as they struggle to cure the prince of his speech impediment, made more urgent by the fact that the prince's brother is abdicating the throne to marry a woman (quite the scandal at the time) and the prince, now king, needs to be able to speak well as the country falls into war with Germany.
And let's not forget the music! The classic greats of Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms are prominent. Great soundtrack!
The emotions run high at times which I found refreshing. The "R" rating for vulgar language is undeserved and prevents younger teenagers from enjoying this film -- language they hear in the schoolyard all the time!
An unusual presentation of an unusual time in English and Western history. The struggle between friends is reflected in England's struggle against Hitler's march across Europe.
The newsreel of Hitler's speech is unnerving and you can see the man's power. The prince's daughter turns to her father and says "What is he saying, Daddy?" The prince says, "I don't know, but it says it rather well." The king needs to say something just as "well" to rally the country. Can he do it? And with the help of an untrained Australian speech therapist and failed actor? Quite a story!