The King’s Speech – The Story You Haven’t Heard

About three weeks ago, The King’s Speech won a few awards. Actually, it won a great many awards at the Oscars, to add to the pile of awards from the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, and the BAFTAs. You already know how I feel about this amazing movie (I talk about it a little here), and I was pleased to see it do so well. Usually, the movies I like don’t win anything because they’re not edgy enough. Well, The King’s Speech wasn’t edgy at all, but it struck a chord with a lot of people. We’re all afraid, and we all want to think we can be fixed. Well, fear can’t be fixed, but it can be maintained if we have good friends who believe in us.

Anyway, the story itself is great. An amazing piece of history, so rich and ready for Hollywood. Why hadn’t we heard it before? That in itself is a fascinating story.

The screenwriter, David Seidler, had a stutter. He listened to King George VI on the radio as a very young boy, feeling a special kinship with him. Seidler grew out of his stutter, but around the time Seidler turned 40, he started researching Bertie and Lionel. He wanted to write about their relationship and eventually caught up with Lionel’s son. Lionel’s son said he’d talk to Seidler and show him some family heirlooms – including journals – if Seidler had the written permission of the Queen Mum, Bertie’s widow.

The Queen Mum did write him, but she asked him to not do it within her lifetime. The 40-year-old memories were still much too painful for her. When subject of the Crown is asked to do something by the Queen, he does it. This was in 1982, when the Queen Mum was 82 years old. Well, Seidler though, I probably won’t have to wait too long.

The Queen Mum lived to be 101.

So, he started writing in 2005, when he was 68 years old.

Amazing. The first great part of the story is obviously Seidler’s persistence. He didn’t let go of his idea, his dream, even though he needed to wait. Lots of things make us wait in life; the divine makes us pause by many different ways. The trick is to keep the faith, to trust yourself, and to hold fast to your passions. Waiting is a part of life. The persistent ones are the ones who get things done.

The other beautiful thing is the respect Seidler had for the wishes of his subjects. In this day and age, artistic endeavors reign supreme. The thought is to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done, regardless of who gets knocked down on the way. Of course, there are instances when truth needs to be told, regardless of someone’s feelings. But those instances are rare, though people often use that as their reasoning for their poison words. Many people are hurt needlessly by media everyday, careless words transmitted on the internet or through television screens. Those words can never be taken back.

So Seidler waited 20 years. 20 years because the Queen Mum asked him to. Of course, she was the queen. She may have had a little more pull because of this fact. But she was the subject, and he respected her. She didn’t say no – she just said, please wait because this time in my life was difficult. We all have our own stories in our lives that others may need to hear, but we’re just not ready to share them or relive the memories. We need people to wait for us.

My favorite part of this story is the payoff. Can you imagine what kind of movie 1982 would have produced? There would have been no Geoffrey Rush or Colin Firth or Helena Bonham Carter – they would have all been too young. There would have been no Tom Hooper, because his parents wouldn’t have been invited to see a staged reading of it and then asked to give their director son a copy of the script…because he was 10. And maybe it would have won awards and gained acclaim, but who knows.

Seidler, at age 73, is now an Oscar winner. He said in his acceptance speech, “My father always told me I’d be a late bloomer.” I bet he’s glad he bloomed now.

Persistance. And respect. And then, rewards. That’s the hidden story of The King’s Speech.

(thanks to this article, written by Seidler, for the back story:


3 thoughts on “The King’s Speech – The Story You Haven’t Heard

  1. I absolutely loved that movie. For many, many reasons. Interestingly, it's generated a lot of controversy with my friends over here, though. Dissent over the position of the crown is still alive and well in the UK, and many of my friends boycotted the film because they perceived it (due, in large, to the way it was marketed here) as a royalist justification of the monarchy. I'd kind of assumed that the waning of royal power into a mostly symbolic role had undone most of the controversy over kings and queens in England. But apparently I was wrong.

  2. Watched a segment on this on 60 minutes. It's a pretty amazing story. It's not often a story with this much history, honor and character is given the top award at the Oscars…..what a lovely trend.

  3. Karith – It's so interesting that I watched TKS with such an American lens. To me, it was a quaint (though absolutely fascinating and wonderful) story about the monarchy, like a fairy tale. I didn't realize there was so much controversy still! Interesting!Jere – isn't it though? I love it when beautiful art with character gets noticed. Though there was plenty of hubbub about those f-words…people just need to relax and laugh a little! (In my professional opinion)

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