My wife and I recently watched the Academy Award-winning “The King’s Speech.” It was research for the March series we’re doing in our spiritual community Second Wind (“Looking at Life Through the Oscar Stories” in which we’re using four of the Oscar-winning movies to talk about life, spirituality, and transformation). The King’s Speech was one of the most inspiring movies I’ve seen in a long time. I laughed, cried, cringed, hoped, committed – all in one movie. I was pleased that it won four Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay. Well deserved! If you haven’t seen it yet, by all means do. The implications from the story are profound.
“The King’s Speech” tells the story of a man compelled to speak to the world when he doesn’t feel like he’s ever found his voice his entire life – when he feels he doesn’t have anything worthwhile to say and whenever he does say something the words choke in his throat and emerge at times with a stammer. To face a radio microphone and know the British Empire is listening must be terrifying. At the time of the speech mentioned in this title, a quarter of the Earth’s population is in the Empire, and of course much of North America, Europe, Africa and Asia would be listening — and with particular attention, Germany with its charismatic and powerful speech maker Adolf Hitler.
The king is George VI (Colin Firth). The year is 1939. Britain is finally entering into war with Germany. His subjects long for reassurance and hope. They require firmness, clarity and resolve, not stammers punctuated with tortured silences. This is a man who never wanted to be king. After the death of his father, the throne was to pass to his older brother Edward (Guy Pierce). But Edward ends up renouncing the throne in order to marry the woman he loves. The weight and duty of the royal throne suddenly fall on the lagging shoulders of Prince Albert, Bertie as his family calls him, who has struggled with his self-esteem and speech from an early age.
With England on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, the King’s wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a rough start, the two delve into an unorthodox course of treatment and eventually form an unbreakable bond. With the support of Logue, his family, his government and Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), the King has to face himself, his insecurities, his lack of confidence, his painful speech impediments, and claim his true voice in order to deliver a radio-address that will need to inspire the people of his empire and unite them in battle.
This is the true story of one man’s quest to find his voice and of those closest to him who help him find it.
As the red light in the King’s broadcast room begins blinking to signal the momentous moment for the royal global broadcast, Lional notices how nervous the King is and says to him, “Forget everything else and just say it to me.”
Over the next three posts, I’d like to unpack that statement in terms of the process of both finding your individual unique voice and expressing that voice with courage and effectiveness.