The King’s Speech – My Review

Yet another movie on stammering! And yet, this is the best movie I have seen so far, which is based on stammering. The King’s speech is based on the true story of King George VI, who is reluctant about shouldering the responsibilities as the King because of his stutter, despite knowing his better capabilities as compared to his elder brother. The movie takes us through a ride of a journey which begins with frustration, anguish, shame and uncertainty, and eventually, leading towards positivity and hope. The movie begins with the most dreaded situation by any person who stammers, wherein the protagonist, is asked by the ruling King (George V) to deliver a speech at the closing ceremony of the exhibition of the British Colonies. The Duke of York (as he is referred to), messes up miserably with his speech in front of a packed stadium of thousands of audience and more painfully, on the radio broadcast. The story then continues as we are shown the frustrating attempts of the Duke and his wife of visiting the speech therapists. As the Duke swears out of frustration that he will visit no more therapists, the wife doesn’t give up, and stumbles upon an Australian speech therapist, with a rather un-conventional approach. Thus starts the Dukes journey of recovery, but not without a few twists and turns. The rest of the movie is, as I would put it, an excellent piece of ‘visual representation’ of a glimpse of a life of any person who stammers. Amidst his sessions with the therapists, we are shown how the Duke deals with his family rifts, pressure from his father, differences with his elder brother, and how he lands up being the ruler of the nation, and how the Australian speech therapist is able to guide his way into making him able to speak and be the voice of the entire nation! What I liked about the movie is, the story is told from the perspective of a stammerer. The very first scene is shot to perfection. People around him making him conscious by saying the phrases, “Just take your time”, or “Let the microphone do the talking”, the frightening sight of the microphone, the sight of thousands of people in the audience in the stadium with their prying eyes, the flickering ‘red-light’ which indicates that the radio telecast is live, giving the Duke a few jitters. Another thing that I appreciate is how the Duke is frustrated with his futile attempts with the therapists, and his reactions to the same. But the Duke’s wife just refuses to give up hope, and keeps looking for more therapists. Just goes to show a few things about a stammerer’s life- giving up hope and the significance of someone else not losing the hope. To add to it more, the character of the Duke’s wife is the kind of life partner any stammerer would want to have. In one of the scenes, the forceful attitude of King George V towards his stuttering son is shown, wherein he forces his son to try harder, and harder. The frustration of a father seeing his son stutter is shot to perfection. In another scene, the Duke’s inability to defend himself, when his elder brother offends him by saying “B-B-B-B-Berty”, also shows a stammerers woes of having the inability to express themselves in demanding situations. The last scene is the most inspirational one. The therapists is with the King when he is delivering a radio broadcast, and he just stands in front of him and says- “Just say it to me…” I say this movie is the best so far on stammering, because it is able to portray the darker side of the stammering. The movie at least tries to bring to light a part of the big stammering iceberg which is often not seen. The only other movie that had this perspective (to a much smaller extent) was Rocket Science.

We have had movies on stammering in Hindi, but not all of those are from a stammerer’s point of view. Most of the things shown are not correct, and / or is used for creating humour or belittling the stutterer. While movies like Kaminay have been able to portray a bit of the darker side of stammer, movies like Golmaal 3, have gone back in time and used it for creating humour with mockery, which adds on more shame, embarrassment and self-hatred into the stuttering audience. As a PWS (person who stammers), I don’t mind laughing a bit about my own stammer, but at the same time, we should portray stammer / stammering characters in a balanced way. The stammering audience, at the end of the movie should feel better. And, if the movie can make the non-PWS audience feel, how it is being a stammerer, then the movie has succeeded to a great extent. The King’s Speech in many ways is able to do both- put the audience in the shoes of the PWS, and also induce a feel-good factor (a positive perception) about the whole stammering issue, to the PWS.

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  1. WindStorm 9 years ago

    Dear Mr. Harish,

    You've done a deep level analysis of stammering and movie media. Hats off to you.

    In India, film makers still need to do more home work, when it comes to making films showing disabilities of people.

    We all know about the untold harm, the Golmaal 3 movie ,had done (and still doing) to all PWS. I feel too embarassed in watching Golmaal 3 with any other person with me. I need not to say the reason behind it. I wonder how can they be so cruel to potrait a person, with a disability, as a reason to laugh and creating mimicry scenes like that.

    And I appreciate kings speech's production house for making such a motivational film that centres around the theme of stammering disability.


  2. admin 9 years ago

    Dear Harish,

    Wow….. After a slight break yet again a superb piece of writing !!!.. I dont have words to describe how much i like your writing..i can foresee a writer in grooming..:).

    P.S : I have seen the movie several times and it's truly going to rocks at this year Oscar night. The movie strikes a chord amongst the PWS community all over the word.

    This is the movie of millennium exaggerated.. :D)

    Kishore Bisht

  3. admin 9 years ago

    Great Movie and great writing!


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