I saw The King’s Speech on Sunday, and while I thought that the movie itself was quite well done, with emotional (if scenery-chewing) performances, what really struck me was the audience. Contrary to my expectations, the movie was shown in one of the movieplex’s larger theatres, and the house was packed — and when we left, the lineup for the next showing stretched past the other theatre entrances. I thought the crowds were for Black Swan and True Grit, that The King’s Speech would be sparsely attended — another modestly budgeted period piece that got modest theatre receipts before receiving an arseload of Oscars. Where were all these people coming from? Was the Monarchist League organizing field trips?
I got a good look at the audience when the lights came up. We’re in our late thirties, and we were among the younger viewers. The 18-25 demographic was not much in attendance. It occurred to me that the bulk of this audience was old enough to remember George VI on the throne. In other words, he was their King, one they remembered fondly. At least that’s my theory. I wonder if the movie’s doing better in Canada than it is in the U.S. — that would be one way to tell.
More thoughts about the movie. Guy Pearce’s performance as Edward VIII was almost a perfect mimicry, if you compare it with recordings of Edward VIII’s voice. And compare Colin Firth’s version of George VI’s speech at the outbreak of World War II with a recording of the original. I did think that the period between George VI’s ascension and the outbreak of World War II was dealt with in too abbreviated a fashion, but I suspect it fell to the needs of a rather focused story — a refreshing change from many biopics that try to cover everything, rather than focus on a specific point.