In the present season of BAFTA, Golden Globe and other award ceremonies celebrating this year’s films, there has been a particular focus on the new period drama ‘The King’s Speech’. After viewing the film I realised why: the plot is engaging and inspirational, whilst it displays British filmmaker Tom Hooper’s talent and celebrates British history; something that is becoming increasingly lost among dominating Hollywood Blockbusters. The film is not only interesting as it combines comedy and drama, but it has a strong visual impact as it uses artistic shots of characters including King George VI, played by Colin Firth, whilst the set design is magnificent. The film has also been nominated for twelve Oscars, twelve Academy Awards and fourteen BAFTAs; more than any independent British film before.
Yet I cannot help but notice that many of these awards concentrate on celebrating actors and the overall motion picture whilst ignoring the costume designers, architects and cameramen who are pivotal in creating any film, especially one such as ‘The King’s Speech’. Indeed, Colin Firth acts extremely convincingly in his portrayal of a man dominated by his speech impediment, but would he be as believable without his costume or the grand settings suitable for the Royal family? As I was watching I found myself unable to forget that I was viewing Colin Firth who had received so many awards for his role, and similarly, every time that Helena Bonham Carter walked onto the screen I could not help remembering particular irrelevant facts about her life that have been brought to my attention on the internet for some years.
Whilst I admittedly enjoy reading about certain aspects of actors’ lives and celebrating their skills, when it reaches the point that I cannot fully enjoy a film precisely because of how highly-esteemed an actor is, and hence sometimes even find myself looking for a fault in their performance, the admiration for actors and actresses has gone too far. Indeed, this is also true when a film’s only redeeming quality is that it has a celebrity or Hollywood star as part of the cast, hence excusing an unoriginal plot or dry, slapstick humour which has been used so many times before.
‘The King’s Speech’ is a brilliant film, but there have been other period dramas that I have enjoyed more because they had less publicity and were given less hype, since they did not receive countless numbers of awards before screening in the cinema. Furthermore, in ‘The Young Victoria’ for example, the lead roles were played by Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend, both whom in 2009, when the film was released, were not huge Hollywood ‘stars’. This resulted in their performances being, for me at least, far more believable. Colin Firth does create a memorable and award-worthy performance in ‘The King’s Speech’, but until films and actor’s performances are not regarded with such admiration that I actually expect King George VI rather than Colin Firth to walk onto the stage and collect his award, I am not certain if any production will be surprisingly satisfying to watch or completely live up to expectations.