Caught up with The King's Speech at the cinema in Kingston this evening. It's received a lot of hype and is clearly on course to clean up at the Oscars, so I was keen to see it for myself.
In the main I really enjoyed it, particularly the central performances from Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, but occasionally I felt as if background events were being conveniently rewritten to enable an American audience a clean and unambiguous narrative of British history in the years building up to World War II.
The most obvious and potentially ludicrous imposition is the role accorded to Winston Churchill, played with cartoon accuracy by Tim Spall, as a firm friend and adviser to King George. Spall positively twinkles at the already fully formed thought of taking on Hitler and leading Britain to glorious victory. Whilst this might have been true in 1945, I'm not sure that in 1939 the Royal family weren't initially firmly in support of Neville Chamberlain's plans for appeasement - indeed Chamberlain appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with their Highnesses on his return form Munich. Then, on his resignation, they, along with most of the establishment, backed Halifax to take on the role of Prime Minister. I'm also not so sure Churchill didn't tacitly support Edward VIII during the abdication crisis. I guess heroism is inevitably defined by those who win.
In the broad sweep of cinematic narrative I'm not sure this matters very much and I'm certain in the main doesn't detract from the charm and humanity of the movie but the exaggeration wasn't necessary and the reliance on hindsight rather detracted from the, on the whole, fascinating documentary elements of the film. Elegant it may be, accurate it's not. .
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.