Royal Films

Not sure if Friday was the optimum day to pick for a wedding. But I’m sure scores of people will take the day off to sit in front of the boob tube and watch the nuptials between Will and Kate. I’ve been getting into the spirit with some royal period pieces. Here are my top five royal films:

1. The Madness of King George

King George III does some very odd things, but then who is to argue with the king? Well, his ambitious son, for one. He’s not getting any younger and all he does now is sit around waiting for his father to die. So when the King starts behaving like a real madman, the Prince of Wales lobbies Parliament to assign him the power of Prince regent. What ensues is a political struggle between the Prime Minister, a royalist, and the opposition party. In the meantime, the King is slowly being tortured by the strange practices of 18th Century medicine: he is bled regularly and his feces are analyzed by all manner of doctors. To rectify this atrocity, the King’s distressed entourage solicit the aid of a country doctor who’s as unsuccessful as his predecessors, but a little more humane. When it seems as if he will be forced to abdicate his throne, George III regains his sanity just in time to assure the Parliament that he’s able to rule.

2. Elizabeth
The story of Queen Elizabeth I’s ascension of the English throne and her rise to absolute power, from her days as a cautious and wary young woman to the regal figure of many a textbook portrait. From sects and secrecy, plots and counterplots, and the temptations of love versus the demands of duty, Elizabeth, with the aid of the loyal Walsingham (played by Geoffrey Rush) rids the English state of the extreme corruption in which she inherited it.

3. The King’s Speech
Candidates for president and prime minister choose to run, but kings rarely have a choice. Such was the case for Prince Albert, known by family members as Bertie (Colin Firth), whose stutter made public speaking difficult. Upon the death of his father, George V (Michael Gambon, making the most of a small part), the crown went to Bertie’s brother, Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), who abdicated to marry divorcée Wallis Simpson. All the while, Bertie and his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter, excellent), try to find a solution to his stammer. Nothing works until they meet Australian émigré Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a failed actor operating out of a threadbare office. He believes Bertie’s problem stems from emotional rather than physiological issues, leading to a clash of wills that allows the Oscar®-winning Rush (Shine) and the Oscar-nominated Firth (A Single Man) to do some of their best work (in a neat bit of casting, Firth’s Pride and Prejudice costar, Jennifer Ehle, plays Logue’s wife). All their efforts, from the tense to the comic–Bertie doesn’t stutter when he swears–lead to the speech King George VI must make to the British public on the eve of World War II. At a time when his country needs him the most, he can’t afford to fail.

4. Young Victoria
Dominated by her possessive mother and her bullying consort,Conroy, since childhood, teen-aged Victoria refuses to allow them the power of acting as her regent in the last days of her uncle, William IV’s rule. Her German cousin Albert is encouraged to court her for solely political motives but, following her accession at age eighteen, finds he is falling for her and is dismayed at her reliance on trusty premier Melbourne. Victoria is impressed by Albert’s philanthropy which is akin to her own desire to help her subjects. However her loyalty to Melbourne, perceived as a self-seeker, almost causes a constitutional crisis and it is Albert who helps restore her self-confidence.She proposes and they marry, Albert proving himself not only a devoted spouse,prepared to take an assassin’s bullet for her, but an agent of much-needed reform, finally endorsed by an admiring Melbourne.

5. Lady Jane
In 1553, England’s idle rich were anything but idle. With the blessing of the royal family, they plundered the riches of the church, stole the finest farmlands, and generally took all the best things the country had to offer.

A cousin to the infamous Henry VIII, Lady Jane Grey disapproved of the way her fellow nobles behaved, and disagreed with their religious beliefs. But as a sheltered sixteen-year-old, there wasn’t much she could do about it. Then, through a strange turn of events, Lady Jane Grey was crowned Queen Jane, ruler of all England.

{top image by To Dry For}

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4 thoughts on “Royal Films

  1. i’ve only seen “The King’s Speech” out of all of these movies – time to Netflix! that tea towel is too adorable 🙂 so mad they’re sold out!

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