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The King's Speech(2010)
Tells the story of the man who became King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George ('Bertie') reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded stammer and considered unfit to be king, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue. Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country through war.
For more about The King's Speech and the The King's Speech Blu-ray release, see the The King's Speech Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 12, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: David Seidler
Starring: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, Robert Portal, Richard Dixon, Paul Trussell
» See full cast & crew
The King's Speech Blu-ray Review
A superlative picture in every regard.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 12, 2011
Your greatest test is yet to come.
Accumulating sweat, knocking knees, tingling skin, and drying lips seem like nothing compared to the horrors of war, but when the man tasked with leading a nation into conflict and serving as the voice of freedom, reason, integrity, and honesty about the prospects of a prolonged struggle suffers through a debilitating speech impediment that could and very likely would convey senses of weakness and fear rather than strength and courage, then those fear-induced sensations become more than a hindrance, transforming into potentially fate- and future-altering vulnerabilities. The King's Speech is the spectacular true story of English King George VI's (Colin Firth, A Single Man) ascendancy to the throne and the speech impediment that sacks him of his confidence and threatens his ability to lead a peoples, culminating in his sudden role as the voice of the free world in the face of unspeakable aggression. Superb acting, a pitch-perfect script, and timeless messages on the powers of friendship, perseverance, self-confidence, love, trust, faith, and fate are all reflected in this terrifically timeless picture that's one of 2010's finest.
Prince Albert, second brother of English King George V, is in 1925 chosen to speak during the closing ceremonies of the Empire Exhibition in front of a packed house and over the airwaves via a newfangled invention dubbed "radio." The Prince, who suffers from a terrible speech impediment which is only exacerbated in front of an audience, flubs the delivery in a big way. His wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter, Alice in Wonderland) seeks help from various professionals, but it's not until she pays a visit to a recommended speech therapist in London, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush, The Tailor of Panama), does she find someone that can actually help the Prince not only correct the problem, but psychologically dig to the root of the issue and find out why it's there. Lionel's and Albert's relationship gets off to a shaky start and seems destined for failure, but when the Prince reluctantly listens to a recording of himself articulately and without hitch reading Shakespeare -- captured while listening to music over headphones during his session with Lionel -- he returns for more help. The two become friends and Lionel the Prince's confidant. As the Prince struggles to improve his speech, a whirlwind of royal scandal and the threat of war thrusts him into the spotlight where the fate of his country -- and the world -- could very well hang on his ability to articulate his country's stance in the face of coming conflict.
The King's Speech may be about a man's search for his voice when viewed through the prism of the mere superficialities of the plot, but this is a much deeper, far more robust, and infinitely more meaningful picture than the simple depiction of the interplay between patient and therapist. The King's Speech is, to a greater degree, about destiny, about living up to, rather than falling back from, the moment. It's about finding the best from inside, and even if that "best" isn't up to standards, it's the effort, the desire, the sheer force of will to improve when no chance is given of doing so that really counts. It's about finding a purpose, fighting for something greater than the ability to read words off of paper, and that is the fight for respect, for dignity, for pride not necessarily in a job perfectly done, but a job competently done, done to the best of one's abilities. That's what defines mankind; not everybody is a gifted speaker, a great artist, or a prolific writer. What matters is the effort, acknowledging a shortcoming and fighting through to the end for that incremental improvement that's far more valable to the soul than is the natural and effortless ability to do something so naturally well and, maybe even, perfectly, since birth. On the flip side, looking at the story from Logue's point of view, The King's Speech is about patience, acceptance, and understanding, all virtues whether dealing with the common man or working with one of the most important and powerful figures in the world. The picture is a tribute to all who have given their lives to helping others, whether that help comes in the form of working closely with another to find his speaking voice and confidence or from some other equally worthy endeavor, most of which may go unnoticed to history but are every bit as important to life as the story of King George VI and Lionel Logue is to history.
More to the picture's broader purpose, The King's Speech delivers a rousingly unique look at a critical historical figure in the raw. The picture highlights a deficiency rather than a source of strength, which gives it an all-too-real and relatable fašade that, even through the exceptional acting, may be its greatest source of strength. Few Dramas -- and fewer still Historical Dramas -- play with such a keen awareness as to the greater scope of the story; that the picture is about overcoming a failure rather than harping on a success gives even more weight to the messages behind the story, messages that espouse the place of friendship, trust, faith, honesty, and effort in the healing process, all critical elements no matter the ailment. Ultimately, the film is like a gift to all of those who have at one point in their lives struggled with something most others take for granted. No matter what that struggle may be, how it affects one's life, or how the far the implications of a deficiency may spread, The King's Speech gives honest hope that through all of man's positive virtues, he can excel beyond expectations and his own self-defined limitations. Living and succeeding isn't defined by perfection -- that's out of man's grasp -- but through effort and a willingness to work hard. The King's Speech is an amazing picture that should be required viewing for all who find in life a struggle; the film's honesty and relatable espousing of incremental improvement and ultimate success even in the absence of perfection is a defining principle of mankind. That even those who hold in their hands great power and responsibility struggle through life to find their voice -- voice as a metaphor for a greater success than once deemed possible, whatever that may be for each individual -- is one of the strongest messages about life any film could deliver.
Finally, there's the superior technical merits that support the story and make The King's Speech into an instant classic. The film boasts exceptional production design -- from the elegant royal period garb all the way down to the trash-lined streets and minimalist office used by Lionel Logue -- and it feels always comfortable no matter where or when the action takes place or who is in-frame. Lush cinematography and steady direction also help to construct a masterpiece of a final product, but it's in the exceptional performances -- particularly from Rush and Firth -- that make the film the standout that it is. Firth is absolutely fantastic, turning in a faultless performance for the ages; his grasp of the part and the critically important nuances that come with it is nothing short of exceptional. That he can sell the stammering not only through his mastery of the broken spoken word but accompany that with the fearful posture, the frightful eyes, and the subtle mouth movements that depict him beginning to speak in the mind but somewhere along the way to the vocal cords becoming a captive of a relentlessly strong apprehension of the impending personal failure is extraordinary. The film's first scene of a shaky, uncertain, yea terrified, Prince Albert preparing and attempting to deliver his remarks at Wembley Stadium sets the entire tone for the picture, stating that neither the story nor the performances will be anything short of masterfully unique. Director Tom Hooper (The Damned United) skillfully draws the audience in with the stumbling and closing of the Prince's mouth as Firth captures the nuances of the part and the director creatively establishes the story and the fear by always juxtaposing mouth and microphone at critical junctures throughout the film. Geoffrey Rush is fantastic as Lionel Logue; he plays the character with a boldness and self-assuredness that morphs into a loving friendship with the would-be King. The interplay between the two is fantastic; they devour every scene with both ease and confidence, and the performances are so captivating and so perfectly complimentary to the picture and its themes that the entire film converges into a singular masterwork of filmmaking that's rarely achieved to this level of excellence.
The King's Speech Blu-ray, Video Quality
The King's Speech arrives on Blu-ray with a steady but slightly underwhelming 1080p transfer. The image generally looks fairly flat and faces occasionally appear pasty, but it still manages some strong detailing in close-up shots of speaking mouths, the intricate regal garb worn later in the film, and even the textures and lines of the old-fashioned microphones seen throughout the movie. Colors are fair; the image favors a colder, blue-gray drab appearance at times, but at others it is nicely vibrant with each shade neither too bright nor too dull. Light grain is retained over the image, but a hint of background noise creeps in from time to time, generally visible over darker backgrounds. Black levels are fair, though a few times crush is readily evident and at others blacks look washed out and unhealthy. A few foggy scenes are handled expertly with no visible banding, but banding is to be seen in a few other isolated spots throughout the movie. The King's Speech isn't a top-tier image, but most of its problems are of the nit-picky variety rather than deal-breaking issues.
The King's Speech Blu-ray, Audio Quality
It would seem that a movie about speech should have a great soundtrack to help capture the smallest nuances of Colin Firth's performance. Anchor Bay's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is just that. The King's Speech isn't going to become a reference-quality release for sound -- the picture plays with a rather limited sound design by its very nature -- but the Blu-ray soundtrack is wonderfully clear and accurate nonetheless. Music is smooth, crisp, and balanced, flowing from the front with the necessary energy and spacing to give it a refined, polished, lifelike accuracy. Supporting sound effects are nicely implemented, too; the crowd's in-unison rise to its feet at Wembley stadium plays with a sharp, hard crack that sounds big and robust but also reinforces the fear felt by Prince Albert as he approaches the microphone. There aren't all that many pronounced sound effects in the film -- even atmospherics are limited but handled nicely, revealing a nice bit of spacing and slight surround support -- but Anchor Bay's track delivers all that's asked of it with relative ease and grace. Of course, dialogue is pitch-perfect; the track captures every slur, stutter, smacked lip, nervous audible tick, and the like with exceptional accuracy, while also handling general dialogue like a champion. The King's Speech won't push sound systems to their limits, but this is nevertheless an exceptional Dramatic soundtrack that handles the picture's every need with astonishing ease.
The King's Speech Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The King's Speech features a nice little assortment of extras, highlighted by an A+ commentary track; a strong making-of featurette; and the best extra in the group, a pair of the real King George VI's wartime speeches.
The King's Speech Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The King's Speech is a wonderful film about a man finding his voice when the world needed to hear it most, but that's only the plot as it may be described at a more superficial level. Deeper themes on friendship, confidence, self-worth, love, respect, and hard work are all highlighted in this touching and powerful instant classic that's sure to speak to every viewer who has ever suffered through any physical, mental, or emotional shortcomings and fought to overcome. Supported by a witty, meaningful, and self-assured script; strong direction; great sets and costuming; seamless performances; and impeccable intangibles; The King's Speech is a complete film, a modern masterpiece with old fashioned sensibilities and a timeless message that's sure to live on for decades to come. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of The King's Speech delivers good video and fine audio alongside a nice assortment of extra content. Very highly recommended on the strength of the film.
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The King's Speech Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray - April 19-25 - April 19, 2011
When the Academy bestows upon a film the title of "Best Motion Picture of the Year", it is not done so lightly. The King's Speech captured award after award for its heartfelt story of King George VI, his ascension to top of the monarchy, and the speech impediment ...
• Exclusive Giveaway: The King's Speech - April 13, 2011
Blu-ray.com, in conjunction with Anchor Bay Entertainment, The Weinstein Company and the Stuttering Foundation, is offering three lucky members the opportunity to win a copy of The King's Speech. All one need do to enter is participate in a forum poll. Entrants ...
• The King┤s Speech Blu-ray Gets More Extras - March 8, 2011
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment has added a couple of bullet points to the extras list for The King's Speech, which is scheduled for Blu-ray release on April 19. This movie about the true story of King George VI and his struggle with a speech impediment won four ...
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