Saturday, January 1, 2011

"The King's Speech": Giving A Stutter The Royal Treatment

In the film "The King's Speech," we witness the Duke of York (Colin Firth), Albert Frederick Arthur George, with an occupational problem. He was a stutterer who was charged at times with giving speeches to the British population. His difficulty was exacerbated when his brother David (Guy Pearce), King Edward VIII, gave up his crown to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson (Eve Best). Now the Duke would become King George VI–and have to present speeches to the entire British empire inspiring resolve as it went to war with Nazi Germany.

At the urging of his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the Duke seeks the aid of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a speech therapist without a degree. Logue puts their relationship on an equal footing through calling Albert by his family name, “Bertie,” and insisting that their sessions take place in his shabby office. The unconventional Logue, who first relied on his intuitive methods treating shell-shocked WWI soldiers, becomes more than a speech therapist; he becomes a psychologist and friend, breaking down Albert’s reserve to uncover childhood events that led to his stuttering. This friendship humanizes the new king as he seeks to rise to the demands of history in this compelling film.

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