A week ago today, J and I went to see The King's Speech at Hi-Pointe Theater, a local theater known for its selection of independent films. We were pleasantly surprised that the tickets were five dollars each on a Tuesday night. It turns out that those are the prices every Monday through Thursday. This is a much better deal than what we paid to see Black Swan a night later at Plaza Frontenac (9.00 each)!
The King's Speech stars Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter and is set in the days and years before the current Queen Elizabeth's father succeeds and takes the throne. Bertie (later King George VI) suffers from a terrible stutter, something that becomes immediately apparent when he delivers a speech at the 1925 Commonwealth Games during the opening scene of the film. Geoffrey Rush plays an Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue, who with the encouragement of Bertie's wife Elizabeth, helps Bertie overcome his speech impediment.
All three actors were fantastic and very believable in their roles. There were times I was laughing out loud and other times when my heart was singing, moved by the movie's message. One thing that struck me was how easily the royal family moved about London without being recognized. This is such a juxtaposition with how hounded by paparazzi and the press the royal families of Europe, especially Britain, have become. Everyone would know if Prince Charles were taking speech therapy classes.
The film, like Atonement before it, is set against the backdrop of England before and during World War II. While not the main message of the movie, I couldn't help but reflect on the reality of life in London during the war with the constant threat of air waves while France and most of Europe, only hundreds of miles away, was occupied by Nazi Germany. It is hard to fathom the fear and anxiety they faced every day during this time.
I thought it would be fun to share a few facts about England during World War II since it was the backdrop for the film. Here is a little sampling (all taken from BBC):
- September 1, 1939: Germany invades Poland. England and France declare war two days later.
- January 1941: Rationing begins in England.
- May 10, 1941: Germany's blitzkrieg begins over Belgium, France and Holland.
- The German blitzkrieg of England lasts duration of the war. During that time, Buckingham Palace is bombed, the city of Coventry is nearly destroyed and some 40,000 British people die as a result of the bombings.
- Many families evacuated their families and fled to the country (and elsewhere) to avoid the bombings. For example, the children of the Narnia stories first came upon the wardrobe in the spare room while in the English countryside during the war. In total, some 800,000 children are forced to leave their homes.