On Fridays, we’ll look at a story, whether a movie, TV episode, short story, novel, or whatever I find to think about that week, and try to learn something from it. For those of you who are familiar with whatever story I choose, please, feel free to add your thoughts and observations in the comments section of this blog so we can all learn together. For those who are not, toss out your questions and thoughts out there as well, for you never know what insights you might provide.
Today, we’ll start with The King’s Speech, directed by Tom Hooper, written by David Seidler, and starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. Do I recommend this movie? Absolutely.
In my opinion, the greatest strength The King’s Speech has is its characters. They are very human: flawed, struggling, and yet in possession of admirable virtue. Though we watch a tale of history and royalty and challenges many of us have never experienced, the heroes are relatable and empathetic. The antagonists are enjoyable to dislike and yet, occasionally, entirely understandable.
It was often easy to forget that George, or Bertie, (Colin Firth) was a prince and then king of England when we watch him struggle and fear and meet humiliations. He reminds us periodically of his royal blood as he reminds Lionel Logue, his speech therapist, in fits of frustration and anger. But the movie does such a beautiful job of portraying him that, while we experience his difficulties and flaws, in the moments he succeeds, we too ride on the wings of triumph and rejoice.
Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), too, is portrayed as an empathetic and admirable character. In this therapist, who dares to call royalty by first name, a family nickname even, sit on the throne above the Stone of Scone and declare it “a trifle,” and inform and then prove within a single hour that his patient is perfectly capable of eloquence and normal speech, we find a man of humility, persistence, the truest sort of friend. Aren’t we all eager for someone like that in our lives?
Then there is Elizabeth, Bertie’s wife, played by Helena Bonham Carter. In her, I found a refreshing woman eager to support her husband, in possession of a quiet but rock-solid strength, and more than an occasional bit of humor. While Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush do a superb job of portraying a wonderfully tumultuous and deep relationship between their characters, Helena Bonham Carter added a special, feminine touch that nudged the movie from very good to excellent and endeared the character of Elizabeth to my heart.
But what more can we draw from The King’s Speech aside from the reminder that we are all human no matter our station in life, that persistence pays off, and that true friendships are a dear treasure?
As a writer and student of literature, I cannot help but analyze every story I come across. After talking at length with my husband about the movie, I came to the realization that The King’s Speech follows a romance plot structure for the friendship between Bertie and Lionel, an enlightening fact for a writer. The relationship plot between Bertie and Lionel follows the usual points of the romance: the two meet, are drawn to each other, and provide what the other lacks (assistance in speaking and friendship); conflict rises between them even as external conflicts drive them together; they grow closer through facing their challenges; the black moment looms over them (when it appears Bertie may never speak to Lionel again), and then they find in each other what they need, at least in part, to conquer what they face (a loyal, honest friend in a time of war when a nation clings to a king’s words for hope).
Since the plot structure worked so well in The King’s Speech, I started wondering if it is more apt to call it a relationship plot than a romantic plot. Perhaps the difference in these types of stories is not so much the plot structure but the type of love focused on. In romance, it’s eros. In other types of relationship stories like friendships, it’s philia. I’ve never seen an agape one that I can recall though. If anyone has, please, let us know.
What do you think? For those of you who have seen The King’s Speech, what did you get out of it? For those familiar with writing, what do you think of this idea of a relationship plot where romance follows one sort of love and others follow another?
Once again, thank you for joining me. Have a fabulous and safe Memorial Day weekend, and remember, amidst your fun and visiting family and friends, the servicemen and women for whom this holiday honors.