John Rash: 'King's Speech' -- not just words, but a celebration of human decency

  • Article by: JOHN RASH
  • Updated: February 28, 2011 - 5:04 PM

George VI was a reluctant ruler because he stuttered. He became a model of moral rectitude.

King George VI

King George VI

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Some Academy Award Best Pictures connect because their stories explore relatively current events, such as last year’s “Hurt Locker,” about a bomb-detonation squad in Iraq. 

Some, like “Gone with the Wind,” simply take us back in time.

This year’s winner, “The King’s Speech,” is notable because it’s a period piece with remarkable resonance today.

Its World War II-era protagonist, King George VI, stands in stark contrast to the monarchs, presidents and prime ministers dominating the current news narrative.

George VI was a reluctant ruler who has power thrust upon him. Today, the Mideast is convulsed because of ruthless rulers who have thrust themselves into power.

The king struggles with his stutter, which sets up the drama of how he’ll address his nation. Moammar Gadhafi, conversely, has no such compunction, lecturing Libyans for hours in rambling, mad speeches that refer to his subjects as “dogs” and “rats.”

George VI is a model of moral rectitude: The film’s sweetest scene shows the then Duke as dad, telling a bedtime story to his daughters.

In modern day Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Burlusconi will soon stand trial for paying a teenage girl for sex.

Sure, “The King’s Speech” was a good story. And great history, too.

But what it said about today, and the international need for decent leaders to find their voices, made it a  timeless, Oscar-worthy film.

John Rash is a Star Tribune editorial board member and editorial writer. His column, Rash Report, appears on Saturdays. Follow him on Twitter @rashreport.

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King George VI