The King's Speech (2010)

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The King's Speech is a 2010 British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler. Colin Firth plays King George VI who, to overcome his stammer, sees Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush. The two men become friends as they work together, and after his brother Edward VIII abdicates, the new king relies on Logue to help him make a radio broadcast on the day that Britain goes to war with Germany at the beginning of World War II. Seidler, who began researching George VI's life after overcoming his own stammer during his youth, wrote about the men's relationship. Nine weeks before filming, Logue's notebooks were discovered and quotations from them were incorporated into the script. Principal photography took place in London and other locations in Britain, in December 2009 and early January 2010. The film was released in the United Kingdom on 7 January 2011. The King's Speech was a major box office and critical success. On a budget of £8 million (roughly $15 million), it grossed over $400 million internationally. It was widely praised by critics for its visual style, art direction, and acting. Other commentators discussed the film's misrepresentation of the historical events it portrays, in particular the reversal of Winston Churchill's opposition to abdication. The film received many awards and nominations, mostly for Colin Firth. The film was nominated for seven Golden Globes, winning Best Actor – Drama for Firth. The film received 14 BAFTA nominations, the most of any film, winning seven, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Firth, and Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress for Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter. The film was also nominated for 12 Academy Awards, the most of any film that year, and ended up winning four, all in major categories: Best Picture, Best Director for Tom Hooper, Best Actor for Firth and Best Original Screenplay for David Seidler.

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The film opens with Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI), known to his wife and family as "Bertie" (played by Colin Firth), the second son of King George V, speaking at the close of the 1925 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Stadium, with his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) by his side. His stammering speech visibly unsettles the thousands of listeners in the audience. The duke tries several unsuccessful treatments and gives up, until his wife persuades him to see Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist in London. In their first session, Logue requests that they address each other by their Christian names, a breach of royal etiquette – and Logue tells the duke that he will be calling him by his family name, Bertie, from here on. At first, Bertie is reluctant to receive treatment. Logue bets Bertie a shilling that he can read perfectly at that very moment, and gives him Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy to read aloud, which he does while listening to loud music on headphones. Logue records Bertie's reading on a gramophone record, but convinced that he has stammered throughout, Bertie leaves in a huff, declaring his condition "hopeless." Logue offers him the recording as a keepsake. After King George V (Michael Gambon) makes his 1934 Christmas address, he explains to Bertie the importance of broadcasting for the modern monarchy in a perilous international situation, declares that "David" (Edward, the Prince of Wales, played by Guy Pearce), Bertie's older brother, will bring ruin to the family and the country when he is king, and demands that Bertie train himself to fill in – starting with himself practising reading his father's speech. After an agonising attempt to do so, Bertie plays Logue's recording and hears himself making an unbroken recitation of Shakespeare. He returns to Logue, and they work together on muscle relaxation and breath control, while Logue gently probes the psychological roots of the stammer, much to Bertie's embarrassment. Bertie soon reveals some of the pressures of his childhood: his strict father; the repression of his natural left-handedness; a painful treatment with metal splints for his knock-knees; a nanny who favoured his elder brother and did not feed him adequately ("It took my parents three years to notice," says Bertie); and the early death in 1919 of his little brother Prince John. As the treatment progresses, Lionel and Bertie become friends and confidants. Firth and Bonham Carter as the Duke and Duchess of York On 20 January 1936, George V dies, and David accedes to the throne as King Edward VIII, still wanting to marry Wallis Simpson (Eve Best), a divorced American socialite. At a party in Balmoral Castle, Bertie points out that Edward cannot marry a divorced woman and retain the throne; Edward accuses his brother of a medieval-style plot to usurp his throne, citing Bertie's speech lessons as an attempt to ready himself and resurrecting his childhood taunt of "B-B-B-Bertie". At his next session, Bertie has not forgotten the incident. He is most aggravated by being able to more or less speak without stammering to everyone except his own brother. Logue, noticing that when he curses he does not stammer, has him say every swear word he can think of. After doing so, Bertie briefs him on the extent of David's folly with Wallis Simpson, Logue insists that Bertie could be king. Outraged, Bertie accuses Logue of treason and mocks Logue's failed acting career and humble origins, causing a rift in their friendship. When King Edward VIII does in fact abdicate to marry, Bertie becomes King George VI. The new king realises that he needs Logue's help; he and the queen visit the Logues' residence to apologise. When the king insists that Logue be seated in the king's box during his coronation in Westminster Abbey, Dr Cosmo Gordon Lang, the Archbishop of Canterbury (Derek Jacobi), questions Logue's qualifications. This prompts another confrontation between the king and Logue, who explains he had begun by treating shell-shocked soldiers in the last war. When the king still isn't convinced about his own strengths, Logue sits in King Edward's Chair and dismisses the Stone of Scone as a trifle. The king remonstrates with Logue for his disrespect, surprising himself at his own sudden eloquence, which Logue had provoked. Upon the September 1939 declaration of war with Germany, Bertie summons Logue to Buckingham Palace to help him prepare for his radio speech to Britain and the Empire. As the king and Logue move through the palace to a tiny studio, Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall) reveals to the king that he, too, had once had a speech impediment but had found a way to use it to his advantage. As millions of people listen to their radios, the king delivers his speech as if to Logue, who coaches him throughout. As Logue watches, the king steps onto the balcony of the palace with his family, where thousands of Londoners, who had gathered in the streets to hear the speech over loudspeakers, cheer and applaud him. A final title card explains that, during the many speeches King George VI gave during World War II, Logue was always present. It also notes that in 1944 the king made Logue a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in recognition of Logue's personal service to the Monarch. The final card states that Bertie and Logue remained friends for the rest of their lives.