Sunday, January 2, 2011

Watch 'The King's Speech': About Leadership and Compassion

All I'll say about the last post is that I got several self-publisher emails in response. They might have seen the post or they might have sent them anyway since I contacted them after the first few drafts. (That latest draft is probably number twenty or so.) We'll see...

Anyway, 'The King's Speech' is a fast-paced, never boring, riveting movie indeed. Sure it's about a speech impediment. Concerned it might be dull, how could the subject-matter be interesting, I wondered? That idea couldn't have been farther from the truth. Everyone loves this movie, and little wonder! 

King George VI

It's so moving emotionally, I suspect no one saw it dry-eyed; it was that  touching. Not only was it compassionate about speech problems, it was sympathetic to Britain, the West and the British monarchy before the Second World War.

King George VI was a British King famous for his stirring speeches; his brother King Edward VIII who abdicated the throne and then married the American Wallis Warfield Simpson had a more lingering, colorful, partying reputation. 

History shows King George VI made many important speeches during the war and his wife, 

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (above) of current Queen Elizabeth II, lived to the age of 104, greatly beloved by the British. The monarchy has, since the time of Queen Victoria  at least, left a legacy of compassion that continues with the British Crown to the present day.  The movie is a tribute to the currently peaceful reign of one of the longest running monarchies in British history.

'The King's Speech' also interests the audience by illuminating the topic of true leadership. Never before King George VI had a British monarch reigned while a previous one still lived. The dangers inherent in a temporarily ambiguous monarchy in England as  King Edward VIII held the throne is a central story behind the movie. Germany in the late 1930s was an  immediate threat to safety in the daily lives of all the British. 

The story of a vulnerable and beleaguered nation facing peril they wished would go away lies behind the story of a King with a disability he wished would, too. The King needed to be a strong speaker to better serve his subjects, not one "afraid of his own shadow" but one who could speak up in  a strong voice to both soothe and defend a nation.

The movie was directed by the British award-winner Tom Hooper starring the enormously talented Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter, already well-suited to this role.  The movie is advertised as "based on the incredible true story: when his nation needed a leader, when the people needed a voice, an ordinary man would help him find the courage." It was a  brilliant idea by the original playwright, David Seidler, to tell the story of the King's  relationship with his coach, Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, a central character of the movie. The therapy that broke the King's stammer is a personal story, interestingly regal. Anger management was also an important issue the King had to work on with his therapist.

But  the real story is the King's long-term dependence on the therapist, and how hard all the people of Britain had to work for their survival as the storm clouds drew closer. Let's hope America can't draw a parallel somehow to the present day. It's a movie with an entertaining story from the past and many interesting lessons for the present.

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