Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Chatter Surrounding The King's Speech

submitted by Trish Dick, OSB

The King's Speech was the big winner at the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony a few weeks ago, picking up four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor (Colin Firth). A longshot at the start of awards season, it entered Sunday evening as the clear favorite, and though there was no "King's Speech" juggernaut -- indeed, for the first 2 1/4 hours of the show it came up empty-handed -- by the time director Tom Hooper pocketed the directing prize, everyone knew where this train was heading.

In the monastery dining room or in a living group it is most likely you will hear a discussion or reference to the movie, The King's Speech. No doubt it’s a great movie, but I am intrigued at the profound impression this movie has made on this Benedictine community and many other people. What made this movie so meaningful at this time in our life. It wasn’t a high-powered movie with a complicated plot line, the cinematography was not over the top, there wasn’t dramatic violence or sex. In reality, it was rather a humdrum movie depicting the life of a person who stuttered but happened to be the king of England.

What creates this impressive chatter for the movie is the humanness of the film. It’s a film about weakness, hardship, perseverance, fear and just plain hard work. All of our hearts connected with the pain of disabilities we daily struggle to live with. It just didn’t magically disappear into thin air. Most of our disabilities and weaknesses also dog us all through life. Finally, someone has caught that pain and made it real. Why is it we can connect so readily when a person in power and position shows his humanness?

I am not too sure who really was the hero in this movie. Was it the king or the voice coach? It was intriguing that many people loved the Australian and his work. Why did the viewers find this man so endearing? Was it because he was a man without social status who used his gifts to make a profound difference by believing in a person? Was it that his power and position came from being true to himself and the gifts he offered to empower others? That humanness, friendship and belief were the basic qualifications and credentials for working with the king.

The main character in the story is paradoxically the disability of stuttering. It demanded a continuous lifelong journey of knowing and being in touch with our fragility and humanness, calling us to seek help and rely on one another, live with something much bigger than ourselves. Overcoming the disability through the daily hard work of grinding away exemplified the perseverance of the soul’s journey. It called for facing something bigger – the fear of rejection and humiliation. The paradox is when the disability was embraced and the authentic self was honored, creating peace.


  1. Thanks for this interesting post connecting to the spiritual implications of the movie. I, too, really enjoyed it and felt that there was something especially poignant about King George being able to speak quite clearly & well when not aware or able to hear himself. It really pointed out to me how hampered we can become by our scrutiny of ourselves, especially of areas where we know ourselves to be vulnerable. Somehow the paradox between the good of being self-observant and careful about ourselves and the evil of over-scrupulosity leading to constriction of ordinary, human behavior seems remarkably human to me. Rachel

  2. Loved the movie also. What struck me was how the voice coach looked beyond the royalty of King George and was determined not only to help him but to be his friend. All too often, I am intimidated by people of higher class or standing than myself and feel they don't need any contribution from my life. So, so wrong, as God made all of us equal and there isn't any of us that don't need each other.

  3. If we had more "shared vulnerability" in this world, it would, I think, lead to less violence and hatred because of the empathy that would necessarily evolve. This film certainly did illustrate the fact that, despite our station and agency, we are all humans and equally vulnerable when we are face to face. The only choices then are to help or to hurt.

  4. Awareness that every single human being has some "imperfections" should lead us to modesty and understanding. This movie shows it perfectly. It is not important what is the social status of a person, whether he is a king or an unsuccessfull actor, he is still a human being. And that is how we should treat each other, like human beings.