One of the great advantages of giving an outing as a Christmas present is that the giver can choose to enjoy the treat as well. So it was yesterday with the Christmas pressie from mrs maytrees and I to mum dad and youngest sister, namely some tickets for the film "The King's Speech" which has just opened at the quirky Curzon cinema in the attic of Wimbledon's HMV shop.
An outing with aged Ps in their 90s needs to be planned with almost military precision so travel arrangements having been made, I emphasised to dad the need to use the lift within the HMV store itself to avoid mum having to climb the steep flights of stairs to the attic. The unexpected can put the best prepared plans into disarray and so it was with the "temporarily out of service" notice on the lift. Nonetheless 94 year old mum hauled herself up the several flights of stairs, to the cosy bar/cafe at the cinema's entrance.
This was a fitting precursor to the film as an individual overcoming such personal hurdles was at the heart of The King's Speech.
The film is in my opinion brilliant and is based on the way in which Prince Albert, later King George VI (Colin Firth) overcame the personal hurdle of his major speech impediment ably assisted by Australian Leonard Logue (Geoffrey Rush). There are so many memorable scenes in the film that picking the best is well nigh impossible. However one that I have not seen featured in the main reviews so far but which for anyone who enjoyed the American TV series "The West Wing" resonates really positively is a scene where Bertie accompanied by Lionel is in Westminster Abbey to rehearse for Prince Albert's imminent coronation as King George VI. Leonard is present to assist with the rehearsal for the public speaking to follow. The rather po-faced Archbishop of Canterbury makes plain his disapproval of Lionel's involvement at all. The Archbishop is also clearly keen to let them both know who is boss. The West Wing too had fictional Catholic President Bartlett in the USA National Cathedral on an occasion when his own disability of MS was coming to the fore. In the West Wing Bartlett orders everyone to leave even the security guards so that he could have the Cathedral to himself. He then berates God and emphasises his feeling by lighting and then stubbing out a cigarette on the Sanctuary. In the King's Speech Colin Firth reacts to the Archbishop's superciliousness by shouting that he want's the Abbey cleared of everyone but Lionel and himself.
Helena Bonham Carter as Bertie's wife acts brilliantly in the film and made me appreciate how in true life the Queen Mother's character must have been given much of its strength from the early days of her marriage. Her two children Elizabeth and Margaret came across really well and again one can see where Queen Elizabeth II gets much of her leadership qualities and steadfastness from. But those corgies - I cannot fathom why the Royal family still voluntarily adds those to the presumably compulsory nuisances of its public life.
The dalliance and then the marriage by Bertie's older brother Edward with Mrs Wallace Simpson of course led to his abdication of the Crown although whether his sympathies with the German Nazi regime were exaggerated for dramatic effect is hard to say. The portrayal of the BBC and nascent radio broadcasting to the then still huge British Empire, was fascinating as well especially after the declaration of WWII.
The assembly the great and good politicians to listen to the King's Speech following the refusal of Hitler to change his decision to invade Poland made a fitting climax to a great film.
Speechless afterwards the maytrees contingent certainly was not.