Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'The King's Speech': For Some Critics, Factual Disputes Get in the Way

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'The King's Speech': For Some Critics, Factual Disputes Get in the Way

Article excerpt

Some of those finding fault with 'The King's Speech' have griped about the use of the wrong kilt tartan, while others charge that the film whitewashes Nazi sympathies on the part of the king.

As the prizes and nominations pile up for "The King's Speech" - it took top spots at both the directors' and Screen Actors Guild awards this weekend - so do the criticisms about its historical inaccuracies.

Some of those finding fault with the movie's facts have griped about the use of the wrong kilt tartan, while others have done nothing less than charge that Nazi sympathies on the part of King George VI are whitewashed.

At the same time, defenders of both this particular biopic and the genre of historical drama in general are hoping that the unusual number of true-story pictures up for awards this season will help expand viewers' understanding about the differences between documentaries and drama.

"The King's Speech" recounts the emotional struggles of Britain's Prince Albert, second in line to the British throne between the two world wars. He had a debilitating stammer that took on excruciating importance as his public duties mounted and radio ushered in a new era of communication. The film follows his unconventional therapy with an Australian actor and self-trained speech expert named Lionel Logue.

In one of the film's many dramatic licenses, the screenplay compresses more than a decade of collaboration between the prince and therapist into a brief story arc, culminating in Albert's ascension to the throne when his older brother abdicates.

La Salle University history professor John Rossi takes on what he considers serious lapses in a film he otherwise enjoyed. "What sets The King's Speech apart is the loose way it deals with historical facts especially the attitude toward Hitler's Germany in England during the 1930s," he writes in an op-ed piece in The Philadelphia Inquirer, pointing to what he considers widespread prejudice in the royal family during that time.

In a phone interview, he explains that the king "had the unthinking anti-Semitism shared by the British upper class." Like others in his government, the king opposed Jewish immigration to the British territory of Palestine - ostensibly because it would destabilize the Middle East, Professor Rossi says. …

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