Friday, 11 February 2011
The King's Speech.
Caught up with The King's Speech at the cinema in Kingston this evening. It's received a lot of hype and is clearly on course to clean up at the Oscars, so I was keen to see it for myself.
In the main I really enjoyed it, particularly the central performances from Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, but occasionally I felt as if background events were being conveniently rewritten to enable an American audience a clean and unambiguous narrative of British history in the years building up to World War II.
The most obvious and potentially ludicrous imposition is the role accorded to Winston Churchill, played with cartoon accuracy by Tim Spall, as a firm friend and adviser to King George. Spall positively twinkles at the already fully formed thought of taking on Hitler and leading Britain to glorious victory. Whilst this might have been true in 1945, I'm not sure that in 1939 the Royal family weren't initially firmly in support of Neville Chamberlain's plans for appeasement - indeed Chamberlain appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with their Highnesses on his return form Munich. Then, on his resignation, they, along with most of the establishment, backed Halifax to take on the role of Prime Minister. I'm also not so sure Churchill didn't tacitly support Edward VIII during the abdication crisis. I guess heroism is inevitably defined by those who win.
In the broad sweep of cinematic narrative I'm not sure this matters very much and I'm certain in the main doesn't detract from the charm and humanity of the movie but the exaggeration wasn't necessary and the reliance on hindsight rather detracted from the, on the whole, fascinating documentary elements of the film. Elegant it may be, accurate it's not.