Monday, 31 January 2011

The King's Peach

Honestly, you'd think some people had died and gone to heaven.
One of my Facebook pals said "The King's Speech: excellent. Went with low expectations, but it is a superb and moving film." Others have been similarly hugely impressed. They've spoken about it's charm. Its cleverness. the fact that it brings joy when so many wham bang movies fail to bring anything but ringing ear drums.
Well, OK. But enough already.
But that isn't all. In America The King's Speech is winning awards by the bucket. Vanity Fair are predicting that the Oscars are pretty well already over. Firth will be crowned, ahem, king of Hollywood, with The KS named best film, beating even The Social Network, which has been doing laps of honour since it was released a few months ago. One commentator said Americans had "fallen in love with" the film.
And yes, it is charming. And yet, it isn't really a movie. OK, we've all seen it in a cinema, but to me, and to one screenwriter friend I spoke to, it is definitely still TV. The ideas and the action of the film just aren't really big enough for the big screen. Not because it's wordy, just because it is too slight. In fact, it really would work best as a play, and a radio play at that. Oscar buzz or not, I'm not sure I understand what all the fuss is about.
The Royals, of course. We are a Royalist nation, through and through. Even socialist leaning Scottish Nats, people you wouldn't think of as being at all interested or sympathetic to the Windsors, are agog at the film. More so than with The Queen, a few years ago, this movie reminds all us Brits just how Wonderful the Royals are.
Oh, puh-lease. the film is at times an interesting take on familiar events, but it shies away from the really interesting aspect of the story. The Prince of Wales: romantic lover of an American divorcee, or dumped by the British establishment in favour of his duller, more reliable brother, because he was a drunk and a Nazi sympathiser? The Royal family rule (this point is made in the film) but only with permission. It's not a life, it's a job. Far from being subjects we are in a symbiotic relationship with the Windsors, a banal pact of non-democracy.
Do I think Britain would flourish as a republic? Yes, it would. Will it ever happen? It might, if the Windsor line screws things up. But as long as there are films like The King's Speech, that seems unlikely. The British are in love with them you see, we just don't want to give them up...

There's a great piece by Christopher Hitchens on this very subject: HERE

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