Monday, 31 January 2011

The King's Speech

Nonsuch HP has been pleased to hear that many students have seen The King's Speech over the last few weeks. The film has clearly done very well, winning positive reviews, awards and nominations and seems to be very popular in the cinema. The film covers the events leading to the abdication of Edward VIII and George VI's accession to the throne. As this article shows, this was a time of economic and political crisis - the time of the Jarrow March and Oswald Mosley's blackshirts, and of ominous storm clouds gathering as Hitler increased his grip on Germany and its neighbours. The King's personal crisis therefore had important implications for a country in need of a figurehead. "When war broke out in 1939," writes Dominic Sandbrook, "he became an unlikely symbol of national resistance, his mundane domesticity a reminder of what Britain was fighting for."

There have been some criticisms of the film's historical accuracy - particularly over the role of Churchill. Michael White writes that, "The absence of deference, stifling and awful though it must have been, is inherently wrong." Christopher Hitchins is more critical of the portrayal of Churchill. He believes that the film shows Churchill to be too critical of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, who were dangerously sympathetic to Hitler's views. In reality Churchill damaged his political repuation in his efforts to defend him, "turning up at the House of Commons—almost certainly heavily intoxicated... —and making an incoherent speech in defense of "loyalty" to a man who did not understand the concept."

What did you think of the film? Did you think it was acccurate, and does this matter? Please let us know.

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