Sunday, September 12, 2010

At last, the film world recognizes the Nine king, Bertie, AKA George VI

The King's Speech officially had its big screen launch at The Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) with its stars, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, receiving accolades including Oscar buzz.

About time that this shy royal "headlined". Bertie, Duke of York, was often portrayed as a second stringer in popular culture - such as the celebrated mini-series Edward & Mrs Simpson and the one with Jane Seymour as Wallis. Even in Bertie & Elizabeth, he had to share billing. He now gets his due... And this hardworking royal quietly got on with it, in his self-effacing Nine way.

Striving to deal with his speech impediment showed his pattern of grit - as Duke of York, he founded an annual camp to bring boys of all walks of life together, and poured himself into royal duties. Most agree his wisest move entailed recognizing his need for a partner and ally, someone mature who would appreciate his lifestyle. He found his Steve Ballmer in Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Unlike his grandson Andrew Duke of York, Bertie knew his life partner would not be impressed nor easily daunted by the trappings of royalty nor would her "breath of fresh air" stick out like a sore thumb. His Duchess had the common sense to not give up on his therapy - as charmingly depicted by Helena Botham Carter.

The revisionary look at George VI is enhanced by Colin Firth (BBC's Mr Darcy and from the movie version of Mamma Mia) - fitting choice as the good-looking Bertie once played in Wimbledon. The other actor in this "bromance" is Geoffrey Rush as Australian speech therapist Sir Lionel Logue.

Maybe Elizabeth II, who famously declined to watch Helen Mirren's portrayal of HM in the controversial movie "The Queen", will attend the UK premiere of this take on her father's personal bravery!

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