London has been featured in countless films since the birth of the cinema over a century ago and has allowed audiences worldwide to view the city through the eyes of film makers. From the Elizabethan times in Shakespeare in Love (1998) to the coal miner’s strike of the 1980s in Billy Elliot (2000), every period in London’s history has a film in which the era is captured, and the team at London Pass have captured these locations in their recent exploration into the history of the distinguished city through film.
Wartime in London was an unforgiving time, and during World War Two, the city’s population were living in a seemingly never-ending state of fear, and thousands of children were evacuated to the countryside to keep them out of harm’s way. During this time of hardship, it was hugely important for the country to have a strong leader to rely upon.
With his 2010 film The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper brings to the screen with absorbing poignancy the incredible and little-known story of a king and his struggle to overcome adversity and guide his country through a time of hardship.
It’s 1925 and the Duke of York (Colin Firth) – known as Bertie – is a stammerer and has trouble with the public speaking that his position so duly requires of him. After his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) seeks out treatment from the eccentric Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), Bertie is put off by Logues unconventional methods and gives up after his first session, deeming it useless. It is not long before he returns to the treatment out of desperation, and works with Logue over the following decade to overcome his stammer, forming an unusual bond with him despite the immeasurable difference in social standing between the two. In 1936 Bertie is forced to assume the throne of England due to the abdication of his older brother King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) and the bashful king must work with Logue against the odds to prepare to succeed to the throne and make his first wartime radio broadcast.
Firth is entirely absorbed in the role of the timid royal and gives what is undoubtedly one of the greatest performances of his career with an astounding depth and subtlety. Rush, too, is at his dazzling best in this film; he so skilfully plays on the eccentricities of Logue, and the scenes between he and Bertie are performed with such artistry that draws you in right from the first moment. Bonham Carter plays the Queen Mother with candour and wit, and sheds light on the not oft seen informal side of royalty. With a supporting cast that includes the great British actors Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall and Derek Jacobi, there is no actor who does not perform to their full potential.
The cinematography is stunning and the prominent featuring of Buckingham Palace contrasts beautifully with the haunting scenery of war-torn London. As well as the real palace in the heart of London, The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and Lancaster House in Green Park were both used to recreate 1930s Buckingham Palace. The Logue residence, however, is supposed to be in Kensington, but Iliffe Street in Elephant & Castle was used, and it is here that we bear witness to the surprise of Lionel Logue’s family upon discovering the royal identity of his patient, in one of many heart-warming and humorous scenes in the film.
David Seidler’s script, drawing inspiration directly from the diaries of Logue, is charming, bringing the story to life with an empathy and insight that the film would have failed without. Alexandre Desplat’s emotive score captures the depth and feeling of every scene, and, alongside the consistently impeccable cinematography, it makes for an artistically sublime viewing.
A masterpiece that will forever be etched on the hearts of cinema-goers, The King’s Speech balances both the light and dark sides of life to bring to life the inspiring and fascinating story of a man who supported his country through the most difficult of times.
The London Pass offers holders free entry to over 60 top attractions including Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle and a Thames River Cruise. The pass comes with a guidebook, specially selected offers, great deals and discounts, and most importantly, queue jumping privileges at selected attractions.