28 January 2011

The King’s Speech

I've finally seen the most talked-about film of the moment, The King’s Speech, which I had posted about earlier. As we are told, the acting is impressive, particularly that of Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, although this seemed less the case for the peripheral characters. Perhaps the actors playing Churchill, Baldwin and Archbishop Lang were aware of the contortions of history regarding Edward’s abdication and German appeasement which their parts involved. Michael White and Andrew Roberts are among those who have commented on the historical accuracy of the film since its release.

The British media like to encourage pre-Oscar optimism about home-grown films, if only as a circulation booster, and the 12 nominations for The King’s Speech sound promising. Films like The Queen, Mrs Brown and Shakespeare in Love (also with Firth), where commoners “let daylight in upon the magic”, seem to go down well in Hollywood. However, the Oscars are American Academy Awards and the voters are mostly US citizens who want their country's films to succeed. True Grit looks like a fine piece of Western mythologizing – oh dear, how many who hit on this blog are disappointed to find it so far east of the old West – and The Social Network has ten nominations. Facebook is something, like Google, that only the US could have brought the rest of the world, and an achievement that China is unlikely to emulate, at least for now. A film which underlines American exceptionalism - Facebook that is, not Wallis Simpson - will surely be well regarded.

Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Queen Elizabeth, is the great granddaughter of a British Prime Minister, Asquith, and, as well as being a fine actor, is certainly well-connected.

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