The King’s Speech (Blu-ray)
It seems like this happens to me every year. I see a small movie before anyone else and I love it. Then awards season comes around and the small movie that no one had heard of becomes the Oscar movie that everyone saw. Then TITANIC-syndrome hits and the movie gets so hyped up and talked about that I start disliking it. Such is the case with THE KING’S SPEECH. I was impressed by it in the beginning because it surprised me with its charm, wit and uplifting message. Then I turned a critical eye to it and saw it as a simplistic, overly dramatic story about a relatively unimportant historical figure. And now I’m back again after watching this Blu-ray.
The story revolves around King George VI (Colin Firth), or actually Albert before he becomes King George VI and his attempts to overcome his stuttering problem. After all, a king that can’t speak in public is not likely to inspire confidence in his people as they prepare to enter WWII. The man that helped him overcome his handicap was Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an odd speech therapist that pushes the boundaries of his friendship with Albert in order to break through to the future king.
The relationship between Albert and Lionel is the focus of the film as the unwritten customs and royal courtesies are challenged by Lionel with his unorthodox teaching methods. But it’s not so much about his teaching, it’s more about breaking down the social barriers surrounding Albert and him overcoming his affliction. Director Tom Hooper does a fantastic job of drafting an arc of Albert and Lionel that shows the development of both characters. Speaking in public is a real fear for many people in the world and I’m sure most audiences can relate to the extreme pressure Albert was under. It’s one thing to overcome your fear of public speaking in front of a classroom of 30 people, but imagine having to overcome that fear in front of an entire nation.
A movie of this nature can’t succeed without great performances and that’s where Speech surpassed other films of 2010 with an all around wonderful cast. Colin Firth had the most “Oscar-y” role, having to stutter throughout the movie and then keep that stuttering consistent. Geoffrey Rush, on the other hand, had to be more in control and reserved. They worked well off each other and it’s a joy to watch these two incredible actors play off each other. But the surprise performance of the film for me was from Helena Bonham Carter. She abandoned her wacky, goth-like characters for the role as a queen and pulled it off masterfully. Every line she delivered was excellent and although her role was smaller, she managed to add a lot to the film.
THE KING’S SPEECH is a small, focused film that lacks the grandness of previous Oscar winners. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good film, but it’s not a grand scale look at Britain in WWII, it’s just a look at one Royal figure overcoming a speech impediment. The knock on it is that it’s a story better suited for an HBO movie and I would agree with that if it weren’t for Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter. Those three gave some near-career performances that took this movie to the Oscar-worthy level.
Video (1080p, 1.78:1): Transfer is alright, but the film itself is a little bland in the color area and even gritty at times, but that’s more the movie than the quality.
Audio (5.1 DTSHD-MA): Clear and crisp dialogue, in this type of film the clear silence is as important as an explosion in an action film.
Audio Commentary from director Tom Hooper: Mr. Hooper gives a great commentary, not only does he discuss various aspects of the film but throws in historical references as well. This man was passionate about this project and it really comes through.
The King’s Speech: An Inspirational Story of an unlikely Friendship (23:01): This is your obligatory making-of featurette with not only clips from the film, but with a bit of history thrown in the most interesting being the real-life friendship between King George VI and Lionel Logue. Worth a watch if you really enjoyed the film.
Q&A with the Director and Cast (22:02): Interviews with Tom Hooper, Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce.
Speeches from the real King George VI: These are the two actual speeches given by the King in 1939 (Pre-War) and then 1945 (Post-War). If you are a history buff then this featurette is worth the purchase of this edition alone.
The Real Lionel Logue (10:34): This is about the man who actually helped the King with his speech impediment told by his grandson Mark who wrote the book “The King’s Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy”.
The Stuttering Foundation Public Service Announcement (1:02): I thought this was a nice touch to add to the BD release.