The King’s Speech reviewed

Paul Brett reviews the much talked-about film The King’s Speech and makes a suggestion for a sequel.

Spiritualist Lionel Logue – King George VI's speech therapist

Around this time of year film critics continually buzz about who the contenders for the movie world’s most prestigious award will be. This year, most of them are agreed that a film based on the work of a famous Spiritualist is the film to beat for an Oscar. And quite right they are too!

Unfortunately, the majority of people who arrive to see The King’s Speech will not know that one of the main characters, Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, was a Spiritualist – and, indeed, sparked King George VI’s interest in Spiritualism.

They will also leave the cinema not knowing this fact.

That said, the film is a compelling and moving portrait of George VI’s struggle to overcome his crippling stammer, and the unorthodox ways in which Lionel Logue treats his royal client.

The film starts with the soon-to-be monarch – excellently played by Colin Firth ­ – attempting to make a speech at the 1925 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley stadium, which is also being broadcast live to the nation via the new medium of radio.

Realising that his royal duties will require far more public speaking in the future, he and his wife (the future Queen Mother – played by Helena Bonham Carter) seek out speech therapists to help cure his impediment. Finding no improvement in the condition after trying many therapists, they finally come across Mr Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) in his rather shabby Harley Street basement office.

Logue’s insistence on referring to the royal as ‘Bertie’ does not lead to a very harmonious beginning. “You may call me Your Majesty, and thereafter Sir,” retorts the prince with regal bullishness.

There are many memorable and incredibly humorous exchanges as the therapist barges through the pompous royal formality, which he feels is part of his patient’s problem. Of his previous medical advisers, Logue pronounces, “They’re all idiots!”
“They’ve been knighted!” replies an astounded Bertie.
“Makes it official then, doesn’t it!” quips Logue.

Colin Firth stars as George VI alongside Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech

The film follows the sometimes tumultuous friendship between the two men, charmingly depicts the early home life of the current Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret, and deals with the nervous anticipation of the prince’s accession to the throne following the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII.

The film ends with King George VI making his most famous speech to the nation from Buckingham Palace in 1939, about the country entering into war with Germany.

The King’s Speech is delightfully written, excellently acted, and a cinematic joy from start to finish.

Given that the cinema was full to capacity for the 6pm weekday showing of the film, and that rumours of major awards are rife, I am hoping that the story will inspire cinema-goers to find out more about Lionel Logue and his work.

The real King George VI at his desk

I also hope that film-makers will pick up on the fact that he was a Spiritualist and that the Royal Family became interested in Spiritualism, ultimately having a sitting with the medium Lilian Bailey. That would make an enthralling and unique film.

In the current climate of widespread interest in spiritual matters, I feel sure audiences would be fascinated to discover more about this little-known aspect of the monarchy.

I have uncovered an interesting interview (Associated Press) with the film’s director, Tom Hooper, who reveals: “We were amazingly lucky to discover previously unpublished diaries sitting in an attic of the grandson of Lionel Logue. We’ve had this incredible first-hand account of what it was like to treat the King…We had this treasure-trove of information that no one else has seen, no historian has seen.”

Perhaps therein lies another worthy script?

In the meantime, it is up to us to let people know that Mr Logue was proud to be a Spiritualist.

The King’s Speech is currently showing in cinemas across the UK.

For more information on Lionel Logue’s Spiritualism, see Sue Farrow’s article, The King’s Spiritualist.

4 responses to “The King’s Speech reviewed

  1. I had no idea Logue was a Spiritualist so thank you for this very informative and well written article. I particularly liked the way you highlighted the relationship Bertie had with his therapist. I think the aspect of our philosophy evident in Kings Speech is the way Logue managed to reignite Bertie’s determination to overcome his speech difficulty, (indwelling spirit)
    Gillian Holland

  2. I found the film The Kings Speech, to be ‘light entertainment’ well acted but not very informative. It was, I believe, made on a ‘restricted financial budget’ which might possibly explain the lack of ‘main story detail’.
    Time equals money, etc.
    It would indeed, have been very much more interesting, to me, if they had explored the philosophy of both the King and Logue, it could have led to an even more enjoyable film.
    However, lets remember that the King was head of the Church of England, and the ‘establishment’ would never have agreed to any publishing of the Kings ‘private philosophical interests’ .

  3. Phil Hotchkin

    It is a pity the ‘Kings Speech’ did not portray the close relationship between Lionel Logue as a spiritualist and the King as it would have shown that the Royal Family believed in spiritualism and actively encouraged it. We know that Victoria sought out many mediums to contact her beloved Albert who she mourned for 40 years, but to admit to believing in spirit contact and actually participating in seances where contact is made, goes against every principle of The Church of England where such contact is regarded as evil and contrary to the Biblical Scriptures. As the Queen is the head of The Church of England no admission will ever be made of involvement with spiritualism.

  4. I saw The King’s Speech after I had read your previous post about Lionel Logue being a spiritualist. I didn’t expect this fact to be mentioned in the film, but I observed him through curious lens. I like how he related to the king as an equal, admonishing and encouraging and challenging. If that’s what it is to be a spiritualist, good on him. I thought the film was marvellous, and remarked to my friend after “Now that is what film should be.”

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