“The King’s Speech”: A Voice Salvaged

By Adriana Garcia, Culture & Thought Co-Editor


Directed by Tom Hooper, THE KING’S SPEECH explores the speech impediment of King George VI of England (Colin Firth). Viewers will not only feel the pain of the characters, but they will also experience the king’s cathartic victory over his plaguing inadequacies.

As the film opens, Prince Albert, who later becomes King George VI, is asked to give the concluding speech at the 1925 British Empire Exhibition. The audience sees the Prince reciting his lines repeatedly with the help of his devoted wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter).

After a few minutes of rehearsing, Prince Albert is called to the podium to speak. As soon as he begins, Prince Albert falters and stammers over almost every word he utters. The embarrassed onlookers look away with disappointment and sympathy.

Prince Albert decides to seek help. No physician seems able to find a cure for his stammer, but that does not stop his wife from calling upon the help of speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).

Logue’s wit clashes with Prince Albert’s arrogance. Logue’s “unorthodox” treatments, however, seem to be Prince Albert’s only hope. Tongue twisters, cursing exercises, and personal discussions help Prince Albert to conquer his problem.

            When Prince Albert’s father King George V dies, Albert’s elder brother Edward VIII takes the throne, only to throw the dynasty into turmoil with his plea to wed an American socialite and divorcee, Wallis Simpson. Prince Albert, angered by his brother’s lack of responsibility, attempts to confront his brother but fails as his stammer gets the best of him.

            When Edward decides to abdicate the throne because of his love affair, Prince Albert takes the crown as King George VI. But how can a king be a king without a voice?

            Logue’s undying faith in Prince Albert helps him discover he can indeed be a king.  Even when Prince Albert’s frustration made him a difficult student, Logue still found something enlightening, something of greatness in Prince Albert.

World War II is imminent at the time of the film. Prince Albert, now king of England, realizes he cannot let his speech impediment defeat him when his country calls for strong leadership and inspiration. With Logue’s help, he not only overcomes his stammer, but develops into the resilient leader that the country needs.

More than an historical portrayal of the underdog’s triumph, THE KING’S SPEECH shows that each person must overcome his weaknesses in order to fulfill his destiny.

Colin Firth’s performance as King George VI of England in THE KING’S SPEECH recently earned him a Golden Globe for best performance by an actor in a dramatic motion picture. 

Adriana Garcia is a theology/honors sociology junior who wishes her cold would just go away! If anyone has any remedies or just wants to wish her well, feel free to contact her at agarci16@nd.edu.