We went to the cinema to watch this several days ago. It is hard not to give away some parts of the plot. After all, the film is based on real people and events in history that some people alive today and will remember. The surprises come not in the events but in the characters.

I hesitated to decide exactly what I think about it. On the one hand it is definitely a film I would like to see again – perhaps at the cinema or on DVD or when it finally makes it on to our TV screens (Freeview in our house). On the other hand our trip was spoilt by the fact that there was something wrong with the music track which sounded rather wobbly. It was suggested that perhaps that was deliberate in order to parallel the struggle with public speaking that was going on the screen at the time. We discovered afterwards that the track had worn out and that a new one would be sought for. Meanwhile I’m not sure whether my wanting to see the film again has more to do with wanting to hear the music properly (and the CD costs about the same as going to the cinema).

Another reservation came from an acquaintance who said they did not intend to see the film on the grounds that it was too intrusive. After all, the heart of the film is based on true events and centres on a very public figure (one who had greatness thrust upon them you might say) coming to terms with a very private and, at the time, embarrassing condition of which he had been made to feel ashamed. Although the main character in the film died decades ago his daughter (whose character also features in the film as a young girl) is still very much with us. Now, I’m not in a position to distinguish between fact and poetic licence but there were a couple of moments in the film which were perhaps more sensitive than others. The first one was where the speech therapist got Bertie to swear (“theraputic” was a term someone used) because he had observed that his client appeared not to stammer when he was angry. Bertie was reluctant because the royal family were not supposed to swear – at least not in front of others – so there was his embarrassment to contend with as well.

The other ‘private’ moment was when the new king burst into tears and cried “I’m not a king!” I don’t know if this incident ever happened but this was another instance of his vulnerability coming to the surface. So maybe we, the audience, should feel at least a little bit uncomfortable prying into such a sensitive and private moment – even if the power of the scene is in part due to the skill of the actors as much as it may be true to life.

Despite those two possible reservations, I really appreciated the film for its portrayal of someone struggling and failing to overcome his weakness. You see, it is not the fact that he tried and finally succeeded in being able to make a public speech. No, it is the fact that he failed and kept on failing. To persevere when you keep failing requires courage and strength of character. It struck me that what we were being shown was a person who appeared to have a weak character – in awe of his father, overshadowed by his older brother – and yet had admirable  perseverance.

His speeches were not notable because he spoke well (Churchill was a better orator) but because he did speak.

I would recommend this film.

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