Candidates for president and prime minister choose to run, but kings rarely have a choice. Such was the case for Prince Albert, known by family members as Bertie (Colin Firth), whose stutter made public speaking difficult. Upon the death of his father, George V (Michael Gambon, making the most of a small part), the crown went to Bertie’s brother, Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), who abdicated to marry divorcée Wallis Simpson. All the while, Bertie and his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter, excellent), try to find a solution to his stammer. Nothing works until they meet Australian émigré Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a failed actor operating out of a threadbare office. He believes Bertie’s problem stems from emotional rather than physiological issues, leading to a clash of wills that allows the Oscar®-winning Rush (Shine) and the Oscar-nominated Firth (A Single Man) to do some of their best work (in a neat bit of casting, Firth’s Pride and Prejudice costar, Jennifer Ehle, plays Logue’s wife). All their efforts, from the tense to the comic–Bertie doesn’t stutter when he swears–lead to the speech King George VI must make to the British public on the eve of World War II. At a time when his country needs him the most, he can’t afford to fail. As Stephen Frears did in The Queen, Tom Hooper (HBO’s Elizabeth I) lends vulnerability to a royal figure, showing how isolating that life can be–and how much difference a no-nonsense friend like Logue can make.

Studio: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment
Year: 2010
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Run time: 119 minutes
Rating: PG-13

Audio: DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Disc Spec: 1 BD
Region: 1

“The King’s Speech” is neither the most complex nor the most original film of the year, but this beautiful film stands out in that it requires the audience to have an attention span. The movie follows Prince Albert (Colin Firth), nicknamed Bertie, in Pre-World War II England as he attempts to overcome, or at least cope with, his stammer. His wife Her Royal Highness Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) recruits Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) and so begins Bertie’s unconventional path to Kinghood and self-acceptance.

Visuals are sometimes self-conscious and even cartoonish, but coloring is used to excellent effect. Lionel encourages Bertie to break away from social constraints, and his space is appropriately off-kilter, while the foreboding, increasingly dark shots of Bertie’s surroundings have the effect of a vice. A stunning Colin Firth successfully conveys Bertie’s vulnerability, which is made all the more harrowing because of his lack of self-pity. Geoffrey Rush complements Firth’s performance and brings his delightful dialog to life as the alternately cheeky and tender Lionel.

Bertie’s history of pain and stress is expressed in his body. The mechanical advice of physicians of the day falls flat, as does the advice to merely “relax.” Lionel offers a deeper connection, one which will likely inspire numerous viewers who have struggled with feelings of inadequacy and isolation. The film highlights the strict social structure as a source of damaging pressure. Bertie’s life has almost no relationship to his struggling subjects, and yet the descriptions of his upbringing are horrifying. Lionel has a content family but, as an Australian, faces frequent prejudice. In spite of its heaviness, the film is quite funny as well. Bertie’s dry sense of humor and Lionel’s insouciance light up many a scene and amplify the more serious moments.

The two most interesting minor characters are Bertie’s father King George V (Michael Gambon) and brother David (Guy Pearce), later King Edward VII, both of whom play a major role in Bertie’s pathology. Gambon’s George is a man with little patience for weakness, and Pearce’s David is a silly, unfortunate product of his family.

Helena Bonham Carter does well with a less fleshed-out part. Lionel’s wife (played by Jennifer Ehle) may be too perfect, but Lionel’s and Bertie’s families are portrayed with a light, lovely touch. Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall) is a purely positive and somewhat simplistic figure, and Archbishop Cosmo Lang (Derek Jacobi) is almost pure oiliness. Still, most characters are believable and very much of their time. Even the most progressive characters do not seem to be artificially implanted with modern ideas.
Movie Quality: 9/10

Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1:78:1 aspect ratio. The film is very colorful throughout. Colors are vibrant carrying a more natural color palette. Blacks are also very strong and deep. With strong colors and deep blacks, it brings out the fine details. Details are very good. Fleshtones also look very natural. The print is as clean as a whistle with a very pristine look. There is some noise in the background, but nothing distracting.
Print Quality: 9/10

The audio is presented in a DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix. ‘The Kings Speech’ is mainly a dialogue driven film. Dialogue through the center channel is very clean and crisp. The score is what mainly pushed the audio in the soundfield. The rears would mainly get some action when music would play or the use of any effects.
Print Quality: 9/10

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary with Director Tom Hooper
  • The King’s Speech: An Inspirational Story of an unlikely Friendship
  • Q&A With the Director & the Cast
  • Speeches From the Real King George VI
  • The Real Lionel Logue
  • The Stuttering Foundation Public Service Announcement

Special Features: 6/10

Final Thoughts

Overall a great movie. Colin Firth did a great job as Bertie, and deserved the Oscar he got. Geoffry Rush as Lionel Logue was also good. The two had great chemistry together and I loved the scene when giving the speech Logue is mouthing the cuss words Bertie used while practicing the speech to help him relax.
Overall Rating: 8/10