Thursday, December 2, 2010

The King's Speech

"Theophilus Thistle, the successful thistle sifter,
Is sifting a sieve of unsifted thistles."

If the above tongue-twister doesn't ring a bell, then you had best run, not walk to see "The King's Speech." I saw it yesterday and it's hands-down my favorite movie of the year.
(Colin Firth and Helena Bonham-Carter as King George VI and the Queen Mother)

Ostensibly, it's about King George VI and his efforts to overcome a debilitating stammer with the help of an unconventional speech therapist (played by Geoffrey Rush).

But like all great movies, its emotional tentacles stretch much deeper.

"The King's Speech" is about bravery, perseverance and forging ahead despite crippling fear. It's about faith. It's about friendship. It's about family. And it's about the challenges of being human. Who can't identify with that?

Colin Firth plays the reluctant monarch with a sensitive dignity that's both heartbreaking and inspiring. (Cue "Best Actor" nomination.)
(King George VI; Colin Firth)

As his kind and supportive wife, Helena Bonham-Carter brings a deep emotional resonance to the role of Elizabeth. Her brown eyes alone should get an Oscar nomination - liquid pools of love they are.
(Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon; Helena Bonham-Carter)

Visually, the film is a wonder for design nerds like you and me. Apparently, costume designer Jenny Beavan was restricted to a pauperish budget, but trust me, you will never know it.

Men, do you covet George VI's slim-cut elegance? A few internet clicks led me to the Savile Row tailor to whom he awarded the Royal Warrant in 1940 - Henry Poole & Co., still operating today. It's amazing to think that all these years later you can have a bespoke suit made by the same shop. His patterns are probably still in the back somewhere.
(Restrained tailoring via Henry Poole & Co.)

Ladies, if dowdy-chic is your thing, this 1930's-looking coat is quite close to the one Helena Bonham-Carter wears in the film. Add a lashing of red lipstick for heightened glamour.
(Tina Berlyn coat with fur collar, via here)

And oh, the set design. In the scenes that took place in Lionel Logue's modest London home, it was all I could do to tear my eyes away from his faded Art Deco wallpaper.

I found a similar pattern below on Ebay. Yes, it's white, but guess what? It's paintable. You have to admit that's kind of genius if you're a dab hand with a brush.
(Paintable Art Deco wallpaper, via Ebay)

Helena is ravishing, but so are those peacock blue walls behind her.

Walls, wainscotings, moldings, mullions -- somebody please paint something this color and report back.
(Benjamin Moore Symphony Blue via here)

When Bertie first goes for therapy, the rough luxe surfaces of Lionel's office elicited a gasp of wonder from several members of the audience, myself included. They're gorgeously alive with the phantoms of a thousand peeling colors. I love the tension created between the raw honesty of the walls and the uptight refinement of the gilt settee -- it's such a powerful metaphor for the collision between commoner and king.

I wonder if the production designer was inspired by the wall treatments of London's Rough Luxe hotel. If so, how brilliant.
(Above photos via Rough Luxe Hotel)

The quiet power of "The King's Speech" continues to reverberate long after you leave the theater. Even now as I sit writing this, Rudyard Kipling's famous poem "If" has lodged itself in my brain and I can't help wondering if it held any personal significance for George VI. It was published in 1910 and so he certainly knew it. Below, two stanzas which to fit his situation perfectly:

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you,
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
(At the microphone)

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
(In front of Wimbledon crowd)

For "The King's Speech" trailer, click HERE.

To hear one of King George VI actual speeches fr0m 1939, click below. (Note: If it doesn't play, just click on the the Youtube link.)

Fascinating Tidbit: One of the strategies Lionel Logue taught George VI was that if he encountered words beginning with a challenging consonant, he should try to "hop up" onto them (e.g. to say "a-pledge" instead of "pledge", "a-way" instead of "way" and so on). Listen carefully to his speech and you can hear him use these little tricks. Also, he briefly hesitates at about 0:40 which - if you've seen the movie - is extremely poignant.


Miss Whistle said...

Agreed, agreed, agreed! Absolutely the best film of the year. Your post is a beautiful tribute. Bravo.

Rocio said...

And to think I will have to wait "forever" to see it in English, thanks to the custom of having all films dubbeb into Spanish....must find a movie theatre in Madrid where they show it in its original and glorious version!
Beautiful post Lisa - now I cannot wait to see it!!

A Gift Wrapped Life said...

Can't wait to see this movie, saw a little trailer of it describing the relationship between the king and Lionel and it looked so beautiful. Your post was wonderful as you touched on all the parts we should pay attention to. Happy weekend. XO

Jessica Thor-Miller said...

I want to run out and see it this very minute but, alas, it isn't showing in D.C. yet.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I have been anxiously awaiting the opening of this movie. The trailer made me teary.

Emily said...

I'm waiting to see this with my mother when she arrives the week of Christmas. Oh I hope I can wait! I'm so excited to see it!!!!!

Sunday Taylor said...

I agree with you, it is a beautiful film. I was so moved by the story. Definitely the best movie I have seen this year. When we were in England this past summer, we visited Fort Belvedere, the residence where Kind Edward abdicated the throne. Your post beautifully captures the spirit of this wonderful movie.

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

Brilliant post, Lisa.
I am dying to see this movie. Just trying to find a perfect window to sneak off and absorb it all.
Cheers and holiday wishes, Alcira


Belle de Ville said...

What a wonderful review. I can't wait to see the film.

pve design said...

speechless is how i feel everytime i pop over here.
cheerio - must dash off to see this one.

Dani said...

Wow. Beautiful. I love that closeup of his face through the mic there. He looks like he might either stand there speechless, throw up, or deliver a wow inspiring speech. Maybe I should check the movie out to see which. :)

Love your blog and will definitely be back for a visit. :)

I'm new here in blogland. And loooved visitors to. I would love a visit from you! (Or anyone who reads this, I won't kick you out.) Cya later! here or there

(currently about my life in Lima, Peru :)

Julie Anne Rhodes said...

The trailers piqued my curiosity, but now you really have persuaded me to step away from the computer and stove long enough to catch this flick.

I do wish I could borrow your eyes to watch it with though - I love the way you're noting the design details while still following story line. Brilliant.

Jessica said...

Love love love this post. Thank you for bringing a little bit of glamour and escape to my student life! Fingers crossed that this is still in the theaters after my exams are done.

DM said...

I read a review of this last week and I'll be dashed if I don't see it this weekend! Such a brilliant post. I always love the research you put into things, so thoughtful and beautiful!

Unknown said...

You've summed up so beautifully, I can't wait to see it!
And that peacock blue is wonderful, I could see a sitting room or a library like that!
Thank you for a splendid introduction - and more!
xoxo Victoria

24 Corners said...

It sounds wonderful...I hadn't heard of it as of yet so thank you. I've been desperate for a "good" movie to see. I hope it's playing here...I'd love to see it this weekend.
You nailed that peacock's beautiful, and if I recall've never been 100% happy with your master bedroom's decor...maybe this could be the star treatment you've been looking for! ;)
The office alone looks worth the ticket price...I can't wait to see more of it!

Thank you for the review...
xo J~
(A fellow movie-design nerd!)

Hausfrau said...

I can't wait to see it! And I'm falling a little bit in love with the Rough Luxe Hotel...

Angie Muresan said...

What a great review you gave it, Lisa.
Oh, I just LOVE the clothes! And I agree regarding Helena Bonham-Carter. She expresses emotion so wonderfully. I cannot wait to see the movie.

Anonymous said...

About that blue: My friend painted her dining room almost exactly the same color. (She knew she wanted "blue with some black in it.") The room has a heavily beamed and paneled ceiling and floors of dark wood, all the other woodwork white. Several years later, it still looks just right.

Kim said...

I have a few favorite Kipling poems. He was suspect for a time: he was a colonialist and all that.

The best for me is "The Female of the Species". Have it memorized.

Enjoyed your placement of him, in this article.

Cobalt Violet said...

Wow great post! I cannot WAIT to see it!!

Slim Paley said...

What a fabulous post!
I love Colin Firth and the subject matter is so inspiring- I'm ALL about being inspired these days.
Thanks so much- I can't WAIT to see it.

Best, S.P.

Karena said...

Quite fascinating Lisa!! I have such admiation for those who try to get help with their Issues.

I have a $200 Giveaway from Fifi Flowers!
Do come and enter!

Art by Karena

rachel said...

When I first heard of this film, I feared that it might be too painful to watch, but your glowing review makes me want to see it right now - thank you!

aprilinparis said...

i'm sold! looks incredible. i love that your review encompasses the whole atmosphere of the film. i used to think colin firth was kind of a stick in the mud, but he was wonderful in a single man and this looks great too.

Vava (aka Virginia) said...

Cannot. Wait. The trailer had me and your review even more so!!

quintessence said...

Oh I was already dying to see this and now I'm desperate.What a wonderful post - I'll now be an informed viewer!!

Emma said...

I might die if "The King's Speech" doesn't come to Milwaukee soon. I might actually expire out of impatience.

Anonymous said...

I had seen your post via Daniel-Halifax, and decided to wait (I often do this!) until after I experienced the film myself before reading yours.
And what an experience it was! Then, afterwards, traveling with you on your King's "journey," made it (if possible!) even better. Thanks so much!

PS The heavenly walls of Lionel's studio which alos took my breath away reminded me of a glorious old house in Dublin peeled down to that raw kind of beauty. I'm sure you have seen it in World of Interiors or Bruce Weber pictures. I will try to find it!

thanks so much...carter said...

Thanks for the splendid post, I am running to see the movie tomorrow night at my film club.

Have a good week Lisa


Hellohello baby said...

What a fantastic post. I am a speachtherapist my selfe. You got yourselfe a new follower.

Regards from a snow covered Oslo :)

Hellohello baby said...

P.S. I will find you some links of your color request later on to day, as this color is the newest news here in Norway ;)

Megan Taylor said...

Still haven't seen! But looking forward to it...I love love love Colin Firth.

k.c. said...

my dining room (turned family room) is that peacock color!- although it is "confederate" by pratt & lambert. it goes perfectly with the original silver leaf ceiling. can't wait to see the film!

Sarah Greenman said...

I can't wait to see this film. My husband is a voice and speech coach for the theatre and is extremely interested in this film as you can imagine. Thanks for the preview!

Sandra Rowney said...

Absolutely! great post, I was looking for details about 'that wall' for my art blog, now I'll post a link to yours. Sandra, UK

Sandra Rowney said...

That wall....try this link
to see the actual set
and try this link
to read how the Designer Eve Stewart worked with the room.

annie2shoes said...

What a marvellous blog and fantastic observations on The King's Speech, thank you! My first flat in London was around the corner from Portland Place!

Rebekah said...

How lovely!! What a beautiful blog you have. I just saw this movie and walked away feeling (among many other things) decidedly obsessed with the office wall. Your blog came up when I did a Google search--so glad it did!


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