May 24, 2013
Written by Mark Schumann, Father of Three
Thursday, 30 December 2010 10:52
Each week, the Reel Dad checks the nutritional value of a movie — new or classic — to help parents choose what to watch. This week’s pick is a new historical drama, The King’s Speech.Every day we look to leaders — of towns, nations, religions and businesses — to provide comfort if we fear and inspiration when we become discouraged. We carefully listen to their voices, consider the security they project, and assess how confident they sound. And, if they disappoint, we wonder where we can find the peace of mind we seek.
People living in Great Britain in the late 1930s had a great deal to fear as Hitler marched across Europe with their Empire in view. The nation’s citizens looked to royal leaders for messages of reassurance that, in earlier years, could be provided with well-staged photographs. Thanks to technology, however, people hungered to hear the royals reassure over the radio. This revolutionary change in how leaders communicate created a challenge for the newly crowned King George VI who, since his early years, suffered a stammer when talking.
The essential historical drama The King’s Speech explores how the new king works to conquer his fear of speaking in public, and overcome his stammer, so he can provide the reassurance his nation needs. The film tells the powerful story of how this “accidental king” — named to the throne when his brother abdicated to marry an American divorcee — confronts the issues that impact his speech with the unlikely support of a failed Australian actor who doubles as his coach.
The King’s Speech is a meaningful movie experience for any parent who wants to introduce an important chapter in history, and offer a lesson in persistence, to older children who may take communication skills for granted. We expect — in a new media world where everyone Tweets, posts and texts — that leaders will be comfortable with the communication demands of their roles. The film beautifully recreates a time when such expectations are uncomfortable for a man who otherwise understands what a leader must be. The film reminds us what people who live with purpose can accomplish when focused and supported.
Colin Firth delivers a thrilling performance that captures every nuance of the anxious king’s journey. Nothing this actor has done in the past — including his Oscar-nominated performance last year in A Single Man — would indicate the power he brings to this role. Not only do we believe his royal stature, we thoroughly engage in his determination and frustration in working to improve his speech. Firth reveals the persistence of a leader committed to deliver what people need as well as the emotional hunger of a man who continues to fear that he will disappoint.
What makes The King’s Speech so special are the relationships it carefully develops. As the King’s speech coach, Geoffrey Rush brings a humanity and humor that perfectly balance against Firth’s intensity. Helena Bonham Carter, as well, brings a calm sense of purpose to her work as the woman who would become the much loved Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Guy Pearce is perfectly cast as the King’s selfish brother who, ultimately, leads for less than a year before giving up the throne at a most critical time for his nation.
We look to leaders to make sense of events that confuse and frighten. The King’s Speech is essential viewing for any family curious to learn more about the challenges that people can overcome to satisfy what others need.
The King’s Speech
* Content: High. Director Tom Hooper and writer David Seidler create a memorable lesson about a critical moment in world history.
* Entertainment: High. Even with its strong historical content, The King’s Speech is marvelous entertainment thanks to the strong script, direction and performances.
* Message: High. This nutritious film reminds us what focused, supported people can accomplish when committed to achieve.
* Relevance: High. Any opportunity to teach older children about an important moment and person in history is meaningful.
* Opportunity for Dialogue: High. After you share this film, talk about how personal challenges and achievements that can change history.
(Even though The King’s Speech is rated R for language, don’t let this rating — mainly for one essential sequence peppered with profanity — discourage you from sharing this important film with your older children. The film runs 118 minutes.)
5 Popcorn Buckets
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