RSS
What 'The King's Speech' gets wrong
The film has won praise for its telling of King George VI's struggle with his stutter, says Isaac Chotiner in The New Republic. Too bad it distorts history in the process
 
The real King George VI actually "appeased the Nazis" before Britain went to war, unlike Colin Firth's character in "The King's Speech."
The real King George VI actually "appeased the Nazis" before Britain went to war, unlike Colin Firth's character in "The King's Speech."
Laurie Sparham/ The Weinstein Company

The King's Speech — an entertaining film in a disappointing movie year — can expect "a bevy of Oscar nominations," says Isaac Chotiner in The New Republic. But as a history lesson, the movie, which purports to relate King George VI's battle with a speech impediment, is a complete bomb. It sanitizes the king's "treasonous" older brother, David (aka Edward VIII), "an ardent admirer of Hitler" whose abdication to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson put King George on the throne in 1936. The film shrugs David off as merely a "self-indulgent brat." It also suggests that King George himself was "staunchly anti-fascist from the start," when he, too, made nice with Germany before "rallying his people to the battle against fascism." Here's an excerpt:

The strange unwillingness of The King's Speech to mention any of this is at least somewhat surprising for one reason: The actual arc of George VI's character would make a fine and interesting movie. Just think: A king fights against a stutter and his dastardly, treasonous brother, while eventually sloughing off his old instincts for appeasement. He even overcomes his distaste for Winston Churchill — the politician who bent over backward for that very same brother — and lends his steadfast support to Churchill's aggressive policy against fascism.

Why wasn't this story told? The likely answer is that even highbrow critics and audiences love to toast the House of Windsor. While the Royal Family may frequently appear more tawdry than anything else, cheap American Anglophilia can always be counted on to provide thunderous applause.

Read the full article in The New Republic.

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week