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10 Years Later: The King's Speech

8 January 21 words: Katie Green

The Oscar-winning biopic The King's Speech retells the true story of King George VI as he overcame his stutter to lead the country through WW2 with his historic speech – a film that celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Director: Tom Hooper
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter
Running time: 119 minutes

The historical drama – directed by Tom Hooper – tells the story of the future King George VI, who is set to reign after the abdication of his elder brother Edward VII after his scandalous relationship with divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson.

However, a problem the future king faces is a stammer he has had since his youth. As reigning monarch, it is his duty to make public speeches, so he must acquire help to overcome his speech disorder. To help, he hires Lionel Logue, an Australian speech and language therapist. Along the way, the two become good friends and after the abdication of his brother, he gains his help to make his first wartime broadcast as Britain declares war on Germany in 1939.

The star-studded cast includes Colin Firth as the King, Geoffrey Rush as Lionel, Helen Bonham Carter as the King Wife, Guy Pearce as Edward and many more highly-recognised actors. Simply looking at this cast on paper, you would expect great things from this film, and it is an expectation they lived up to. Not to be biased, but Colin Firth is a British talent that makes him one of the greats - and I’m not just saying that because he is my favourite actor. His portrayal as the King is a strong and powerful one. The frustration the real king must have had to simply get a few words out is mirrored well in Firth’s part, as he sets his outstanding acting skills to the part. 

An actress that cannot be overlooked is Helen Bonham Carter in her role as the Queen Mother (Queen Elizabeth). She seems to be the peacekeeper in the male household and world she lives in, keeping situations smooth and staying supportive by the side of her husband – who she dearly loves. Bonham Carter is known for her variety in roles, but this is potentially one of her more stand-out ones.

A journey of struggle and success that may bring a tear to your eye

On the surface, the film is prim and proper – similar to the Royal family it portrays – yet there is a comedic and even emotional side to it. When the King begins his exercises with Mr Logue to improve his speech, they involve some peculiar ones including his own wife having to sit on his stomach to control his breathing. It is a funny sight to see. 

One of the more emotional scenes that sticks out is the King making his speech as he declares Britain is at War with Germany, a speech that in reality would have been a frightening time for all. From the nervous feeling Firth shows us, to the triumphant look he has after completing his speech is one that may bring a tear to your eye as it is a journey of struggle and success that we have followed as viewers.

The King's Speech was set to be popular back at its time of release, again not only with the cast but also as it surrounds a subject such as the Royal family. On its 10th anniversary, it is no wonder it is still as prevalent now as it was back then.

Did you know? In the 2013 documentary series Educating Yorkshire, English teacher Matthew Burton helped pupil Musharaf Asghar overcome his stammer by using a technique that Mr Burton learned from the film. Musharaf now works as a motivational speaker.

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