Release Date: 7th January 2011
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: David Seidler
Producer: Iain Canning, Emile Sherman & Gareth Unwin
Executive Producer: Paul Brett, Bob Weinstein & Harvey Weinstein
Runtime: 1hr 58mins
Prince Albert, Duke of York, the second son of King George V, stammers through his speech closing the 1925 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Stadium. The Duke has given up hope of a cure, but his wife Elizabeth persuades him to see Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist in London. During their first session, Logue breaches royal etiquette and insists on calling his patient “Bertie”, a name used only within the Duke’s family. When Albert decides Logue’s methods and manner are unsuitable, the Australian bets a shilling that the Duke can recite Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy without trouble while listening to The Marriage of Figaro played out loud on headphones. Logue records his performance on a gramophone record; convinced he has stammered throughout, Albert leaves in a huff, declaring his condition “hopeless” and dismissing Logue. Logue offers him the recording as a keepsake.
After King George V makes his 1934 Christmas radio address, he explains to Albert the importance of broadcasting to a modern monarchy. He declares that “David” (Edward, Prince of Wales), Albert’s older brother, will bring ruin to himself, the family, and the country when he accedes to the throne, leaving Chancellor Hitler and Premier Stalin to sort out matters in Europe. King George demands that Albert train himself, starting with a reading of his father’s speech. He makes an agonising attempt to do so.
Later, Albert plays Logue’s recording and hears himself unhesitatingly reciting Shakespeare. He returns to Logue, but he and his wife insist that Logue stop delving into his private life and merely work on the physical aspects. Logue teaches his patient muscle relaxation and breath control techniques, but continues to probe gently at the psychological roots of the stutter. The Duke eventually reveals some of the pressures of his childhood: his tense relationship with his unloving and strict father, the repression of his natural left-handedness, painful childhood metal splints to correct his knock-knees, long term physical abuse by his nanny, and the early death of his beloved epileptic younger brother, John. The two men become friends.
In January 1936, George V dies, and David ascends the throne as King Edward VIII, but causes a monumental crisis with his determination to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who is still legally married to her second husband. At Christmas in Balmoral Castle, Albert points out that Edward, as head of the Church of England, cannot marry Mrs. Simpson, even if she receives a divorce; Edward accuses his brother of wanting to usurp his place, citing his elocution lessons as preparation, and resurrects his childhood taunt of “B-B-B-Bertie”.
At his next session, Albert expresses his frustration that his speech has improved while talking to most people—except his own brother. Albert reveals the extent of Edward VIII’s folly with Mrs Simpson. When Logue insists that Albert could be a good king instead of his brother, the latter labels such a suggestion as treason, mocks Logue’s failed acting aspirations and humble origins, and dismisses him. When King Edward VIII abdicates to marry Mrs Simpson, Albert becomes King George VI. The new King and Queen visit Logue at his home to apologise, startling Logue’s wife (who had been kept in the dark about the patient’s identity).
During preparations for his coronation in Westminster Abbey, George VI learns that Logue has no formal qualifications. Logue explains that, as an elocution teacher, he was asked to help shell-shocked Australian soldiers returning from the First World War, and thereby found his calling. When George VI remains convinced of his unfitness to be king, Logue sits in King Edward’s Chair and dismisses the underlying Stone of Scone as a trifle. Goaded by Logue’s seeming disrespect, the King surprises himself with his own sudden outraged eloquence.
Upon the declaration of war with Nazi Germany in September 1939, George VI summons Logue to Buckingham Palace to prepare for his upcoming radio address to millions of listeners in Britain and the Empire. The King is left alone with Logue in the room with the microphone. He delivers his speech competently, as if to Logue alone, who guides him silently throughout. Afterwards, the King and his family step onto the balcony of the palace to be viewed and applauded by the thousands who have gathered.
A title card explains that Logue was always present at King George VI’s speeches during the war, and that they remained friends for the rest of their lives.
Colin Firth…as King George VI
Geoffrey Rush…as Lionel Logue
Helena Bonham Carter…as Queen Elizabeth
Guy Pearce…as King Edward VIII
Michael Gambon…as King George V
Timothy Spall…as Winston Churchill
Jennifer Ehle…as Myrtle Logue
Derek Jacobi…as Archbishop Cosmo Lang
2011: American Film Institute Award – A Year of Excellence Award
2011: BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
2011: British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011: British Independent Film Award – The Richard Harris Award
2011: Hollywood Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011: Italian Online Movie Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
2011: Santa Barbara International Film Festival Award for Best Ensemble Cast
2011: Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2011: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011: Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Ensemble Cast
2011: Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011: Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble
2011: Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011: Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011: Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011: Denver Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011: Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011: Empire Award for Best Actress
2011: Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
2011: Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011: Iowa Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011: Irish Film & Television Award for Best International Actress
2011: London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actress of the Year
2011: National Movie Award for Performance of the Year
2011: North Texas Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011: Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Acting Ensemble
2011: Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
2011: Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Female Actor
2011: St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011: Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress