08 February, 2011

The King's Speech: A Royal Occasion

Blogger: Greg Spencer

The furore surrounding The King's Speech is quite astounding. After being nominated for a plethora of awards including Best Motion Picture - Drama at the Golden Globes, and Colin Firth picking up Best Actor in the same night, The King's Speech is the film of 2011. After performing well at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Toronto Film Festival, the film is expected to clean up at the Oscars and the BAFTAs.

The impact of a film being nominated for the main Oscar awards is huge. U.S. online ticket seller Fandango reported a 76% increase in ticket sales in the 24 hours after the Oscar nominations were revealed, a fact that illustrates just how much impetus just being nominated can have.

In the Oscars' Best Picture category, The King's Speech finds itself up against such films as 127 Hours, Black Swan, Inception, True Grit, Toy Story 3, The Social Network, The Kids are All Right, The Fighter and the surprise inclusion, Winter's Bone. I think the strongest competition will be from David Fincher's The Social Network and Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, though the Coen brothers' True Grit may be a shock winner, having made $148m in the U.S. in six weekends.

It will take something special to knock The King's Speech of its Royal perch - people in this country are applauding at the end of screenings; something us reserved Brits aren't used to. We musn't underestimate that Americans are fascinated by our monarchy, as demonstrated by Helen Mirren winning Best Actress in a Leading Role for her role in The Queen in 2006. Our monarchy is something that other cultures admire, and this is undoubtedly a big factor in the success of both films.

What do you think of The King's Speech? Is it really worthy of all the hype?

7 comments:

Nick Lacey said...

The film’s attraction is, I think, that it humanises toffs. However, despite the fact they are human, the institution of aristocracy isn’t and so the film acts as propaganda. I hate the ‘Oo look they are just like us’ representation because they aren’t like us, they are the elite by accident of birth. No one should have that status.

Technically the film is very good but I find it depressing that 'reserved' Brits are applauding it.

Destroy Apathy said...

Wow Nick, FINALLY somebody who feels the same way I do. The film is technically brilliant: Sound, editing cinematography; Firth's performance is a masterclass (and I guess the others are pretty good too). But... As you so succinctly conveyed in your post, this film defends a redundant, backwards, undemocratic farce of an institution and reinforces that stiff upper-lip, honor thy duty and know your place stereotype of the British. It is no surprise that it was written by an American, as the post above states, they really love to fetishise our monarchy.
Not only that, but it is so narratively simplistic; it follows a very basic underdog story, like an aristocratic Rocky. I don't think that everything should break boundaries, but for a film that is most likely gonna clean up at the oscars I would like some depth, some thought provocation. Maybe my expectations of the Academy are a little warped and unrealistic.

- Mike McKenny

Anonymous said...

Nope, can't say the film made me feel benign towards the anachronistically privileged toffs. But I do hope I have a greater empathy with and more understanding of the trials of those who stammer.
Found it a compassionate film that demonstrated the power of therapy and sensitivity over the impatience and pressure for dubious, quick-fix solutions. Whilst undoubtedly driven by a simplistic plot, reflecting the desire to engage our emotions, the courage and humanity of Lionel Logue, as portrayed, surely holds one of the keys to the widespread appreciation of the film - be true to what you believe to be right (and especially in this instance, to what you believe to be effective) whatever the situation or the odds. There, I've turned it into a morality tale!!

Anonymous said...

A Miramax film dominating the Oscar nominations...surely not?!

Tom said...

It's good but massively over-hyped. A simple story well acted and nicely shot. Firth plays the reserved toff again but with added F-bombs. I'd like to see him branch out and play something totally different.

James C said...

If anything I found that the Oscars nominations mired my experience of The King's Speech. Because of the hype, the way it had been marketed; all the way through watching this film I kept thinking was this 'designed' to win Oscars. The more I thought about it, the more it annoyed me. As previously stated The King's Speech "fetishise our monarchy", the Americans love a royalty/underdog story, throw in a few heavy hitting names and a disability, and you've got an instant Oscar winner. This combined with its tactical release date, just makes me conclude it is film making by the numbers. I'm not saying The King's Speech is a bad film, just one that is afraid to take risks when faced with the opportunity of getting that all-important statue.

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