Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The King's Speech

Last weekend, Leslie and I had some excellent Chinese food from the House of Lee in Emsworth. They've been there since I was in high school, and even after a considerable absence from the area I still have not had a bad experience with the food there.

Afterward, we decided to take in the theatrical re-release of this year's Oscar winner for Best Picture, The King's Speech. The re-release included some editing of some profanities that resulted in the film getting an "R" rating. This new version is rated PG-13, which illustrates to me the hypocrisy of the provincial thinking that endangers the "traditional" entertainment industry. To quote Roger Ebert about the rating; "It is utterly inexplicable. This is an excellent film for teenagers."

Apparently, the studio and production company saw it that way as well. Along with the PG-13 theatrical version, they released an activity guide for students to go along with the film. Perhaps there's a method to their madness; if they take out some of the offensive language, perhaps the film will be made available in schools, and kids will learn from it. I still don't like the censorship aspects of this.

All the "F" words will be intact when the film comes to DVD, and that happens in less than two weeks. So what have they accomplished? Well, truth be told, they got $20 out of me to see it in the multiplex, which is most likely what they wanted to begin with.

It's easy for me to see why the film won the Oscar - it's classic movie-making at its best. Great writing accompanied by great acting, along with some innovative touches. There's one scene that follows Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter down a hallway and then down a winding staircase - all with what seems to be one Steadicam in a single shot. It reminded me a little of the grand opening scene of Orson Welles' Touch Of Evil, if not on the scale of that classic.

One other reason I think the film won is because it tells an uplifting story about an admirable set of characters who surmount daunting personal challenges in the face of much larger concerns. It resonated with the public, especially those with speech difficulties. I saw several other films nominated for Best Picture, among them 127 Hours, The Social Network, and Inception. While these are all outstanding films in many of the same ways, they are more modern in both their subject matter and their approach, perhaps so much so that those who vote for the Oscars, which include a number of traditionalists, saw the appeal, accessibility, and craftsmanship of this British effort and pronounced it worthy of their appreciation.

I don't think that the Academy took Inception as seriously as they should have - I think it seemed more of a novelty to them, which is why it won all of the major awards for technical achievements, just like The Matrix did. Enough about that.

Perhaps the additional appeal of The King's Speech comes from the manner in which it portrays historical events in a more personal context, and the way that convention is seemingly set aside for what works. You'll see what I mean if/when you see the film. Of particular interest to me was the portrayal of King Edward VIII as a disinterested party boy of sorts. Combined with his obsession over the American divorcee' Wallis Simpson - for whom he would seriously defy convention and give up his throne to marry - it seems to be the message of the film that not only was George VI a more capable, if reluctant leader, but that his older brother would have been a disaster in wartime.

Given her ability to captivate such a man, one wonders if Wallis Simpson can be considered the savior of Britain, if not the free world, for doing so.

The film is an excellent look at the power of thinking outside the box and leveraging technology for the betterment of humankind, as well as the dangers of looking at people only as credentials, and not for their inherent worth as individuals. Think about that when you watch it, which I hope you'll do.

Have a great day.

1 comment:

Evan said...

love the comment about wallis, the power of women man.