'The King’s Speech' Review: Masterful, Inspiring, and Oscar-Worthy

“The King’s Speech” begins with a close-up shot of a microphone. The microphone isn’t extravagant. Nor would it be considered unique. However, its simplicity doesn’t portend its significance in the modern world. The microphone allows the voice of one man or woman to reach millions of listeners. Its power is on full display in “The King’s Speech,” a great film about a leader’s struggle with a speech impediment during a time of crisis in England.

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Colin Firth plays Prince Albert as the story begins in the early 20th century. Albert is forced to give public speeches as part of his official duties. It’s a responsibility that he dreads because he suffers from an awful stammer that he has had since childhood. That speech impediment prevents him from connecting to his audience and inspiring them. Instead, when he gives a speech, listeners painfully look on as he struggles with the text in front of him.

With the support of his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), Prince Albert seeks the counsel of doctors to help him overcome the stammer. One doctor even has Prince Albert insert marbles into his mouth to cure him. That suggestion, like so many other approaches before it, fails to make a difference.

As Albert struggles to overcome the stammer, his brother (Guy Pearce) is elevated to the throne and becomes King Edward VIII. Prince Albert gladly accepts a supporting role in the country’s leadership. However, when his brother’s love for a divorced woman pushes him to voluntarily give up his position, Prince Albert becomes the new king. He is soon named King George VI. As the new king, Albert faces the daunting task of leading his nation as war with Hitler quickly approaches.

By this time, Albert’s wife has enlisted the help of a strange speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an ordinary man who uses strange methods to cure his patients. Lionel isn’t used to working with royalty but after a rough first session, Logue starts earning the king's respect. Soon enough, Logue is working closely with King George to prepare him for a major speech that will change England's future.

"The King's Speech" uses a lot of open spaces to tell its story.The large rooms and open areas that the King is often shown in reinforce the idea that a leader can quickly become small and insignificant if he's incapable of communicating with his public via the airwaves. However, with a strong voice and a firm resolve to guide his nation in the right direction, a leader can achieve greatness.

Tom Hooper beautifully directed this historical drama based on the true story of King George VI. With a strong supporting cast surrounding him, Colin Firth delivers a great performance as a man forced into a leadership position who struggles with a speech impediment. Years from now, “The King’s Speech” will likely be remembered as a modern classic and one of the best films of 2010. It's an inspiring story of a man who had to overcome a stammer to lead his nation.

A man who, when his nation needed him, stood up to the microphone and spoke eloquently across the airwaves.


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