Friday Favorite: Favorite Scene – The King’s Speech

Do you ever get the impression that a movie gets all of its acclaim and awards because of one scene?  One good moment can elevate a movie from ordinary to extraordinary, and can make the rest of the film shine with reflected glow.  And while I don’t think The King’s Speech was such a hit because of this one scene, I still could see how someone could make that argument.  It’s rare that I wish while watching a film in the theater that I could rewind a scene and watch it over, but that was definitely the case with this scene.  Take a look:

This is one of those great scenes that remains funny no matter how many times I watch it, and in some ways it’s almost funnier and more random without context.  While I imagine that King George VI did not work on his stammer by extended cursing, it does seem like a believable moment in the context of the film and the character as presented.  George has spent his life bullied by his father and repressed, both of which have contributed to his stammer.  This wonderful moment of letting off steam is a big step for the character because it allows him to “get out of his head”, so to speak, and let his emotions direct his voice.  Most big moments of character growth in films of this sort tend to be sappy, melodramatic scenes, where someone comes to a big realization about their life, but director Tom Hooper and writer David Seidler made a brilliant decision to use humor instead (though The King’s Speech has plenty of those sappy, melodramatic scenes, too).

Of course, the success of this scene lies entirely with Colin Firth as George and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue.  Swearing can be a surprisingly difficult thing to pull off on film.  So often it feels forced and unnatural, though obviously it’s supposed to feel a bit unnatural here.  I love the Firth’s delivery, particularly when he offers up “fornication” when asked if he knows the f-word, despite knowing that that’s not what Logue wanted to hear, and the way he lets out the final “tits” with a bit of growing embarrassment at what he’s been saying.  It’s an absolutely hilarious scene, and for me it helps define the rest of the film.

Of course, while the it is one of my favorites, the scene also has a bit of a bad reputation due to it being solely responsible for The King’s Speech getting an R rating.  There have been a lot of debates about the rationale and the effectiveness of the MPAA as a whole, but giving the film an R rating for this is one of the most ridiculous examples of their failings.  It’s ok to blow people to bits on screen, but heaven forbid someone use these words that once upon a time someone arbitrarily decided were “bad”.  And don’t even get me started on sex.  Who would have thought words and sex are so scary to people yet guns and violence are perfectly fine?  But that’s a debate for another time in a longer format.

It’s rare that a scene can make me laugh as hard as this one does, while still making me feel something and advancing the plot and the characters.  That, I think, is why it’s one of my favorites.  The fact that we all need to let loose with a string of “fucks” every now and then doesn’t hurt the scene either.  And if this scene alone is responsible for the film’s awards and acclaim, so much the better.

What do you think?  What’s your favorite scene in The King’s Speech?  What’s your favorite example of movie swearing?  How ridiculous is it that the this film was rated R for this scene alone?  Let me know in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Friday Favorite: Favorite Scene – The King’s Speech

    • I don’t have a problem with people not liking particular types of content. Everyone has a right to dislike or not watch something because they don’t like it’s content. I’m just bothered by the misaligned standards of our rating system, which allows all manner of violence in a PG-13 movie, but any amount of sex or language automatically gets an R. But unfortunately, violence sells, so it makes economic sense. Thanks for the comment!

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      • I personally feel that seeing violence in films doesn’t affect me at least. I’m not condoning violence, but if somebody shoots someone, I don’t feel compelled to shoot someone.

        But if I see somebody have sex, I do get a bit…excited, shall we say, and it’s a bit difficult to quell the feeling. Also if I do hear cursing, the words get caught in my head and reverberate between the walls of my brain while I’m trying to make it go out.

        So I just look at content as to what personally affects me and what doesn’t. But this is just MY opinion.

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        • Yeah I get what you’re saying. And you and I are adults and can figure out what sorts of things we do and don’t want to watch. My objection is really to the rating system, which is theoretically supposed to protect kids from violence, sex and foul language, but which over the years has bowed to the pressure of studios to allow more violence in lower rated movies because it sells, while language rules have mostly stayed the same and sex rules have gotten more strict. There’s a whole other argument to be made about we have become desensitized to violence, and whether artist content should be subject to a ratings system at all, especially when detailed content descriptions are widely available online and offer far more extensive and accurate information than the MPAA does with their ratings. But that’s for another time.
          In the end you are the best person to decide what you want to see, and what you want the children in your life (if there are any) to see. And that’s how it should be. I’m glad you actually care about what you’re watching enough to think about it, where most people seem to arbitrarily go to things without bothering to look into it first.
          Thanks for the comments!

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  1. I’m not sure how it works in the US but here in the UK, where the BBFC dish out certification, they set their rating criteria through extensive consultation with the public. It is clear that the parents, teachers and psychologists they are talking to believe that sex and swearing generally merit a higher rating than non graphic violence. Through consultation they have come up with set guidelines and certainly you can get away with a couple of expletives in a 12A but if you go above the specified number you are going to get a 15. There have been examples where fantastic films like Made in Dagenham which have an important message about equal rights and should be seen by a wide adolescent audience get the higher rating because of the regular dropping of F-bombs. Interestingly here The Kings Speech got the lower rating because the swearing was limited to this one scene, something that enraged Stephen Wooley, the producer of Made in Dagenham.

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