Color Me Confused

When I first heard about “The King’s Speech” about eight months ago, I must confess my initial reaction echoed that of many others: “*another* film about a British royal? Really?” I was even more skeptical when I learned that Colin Firth had been cast in the lead role of King George VII. Despite everything I knew of his versatility as an actor, even my vivid imagination just wasn’t envisioning him in that role. Nevertheless, for academic reasons, and because I’m a huge admirer of Firth’s work, I kept my eye on it.

Then I saw the trailer, and I immediately wanted to ask his royal highness’s pardan; it looked fabulous, intriguing, and with the running undercurrent of humor Colin Firth fans have come to expect of him. It was credited with treating a highly personal chapter in the British royal family’s history with historical accuracy and sensativity. The critics raved; the media waxed rhapsodic; an oscar nomination was predicted (potential jinx notwithstanding); the once-wet Mr. Darcy was haled “King Colin”. The film was scheduled for limmited release in New York and L.A on November 26th with a wider release scheduled for December 10. In the days leading up to the release, it received as much as, if not more publicity than “A Single Man” did earlier this year–at least, if a spot on the Today Show is as big of a publicity plumb as it would seem to be.

Now it’s December 11, and I’ve heard little if anything about its reception, nor does it seem to be playing in any of my local theaters, or those of several others I know. Color me confused. Given the buzzz surrounding it, I’d have thought differently. True, the film doesn’t have huge financial backing, which has been pointed out on numerous occasions. Then too, in several interviews, Colin has, I think, rather intuitively articulated some of the film’s potential pitfalls; how will an American audience respond to it? Yes, people are interested in the royal family, but here’s a backstory that some might not be aware of or interested in; “The Young Victoria”, if historically watered down, at least had the crowd-pleasing element of the love story.
Then again, though I haven’t yet seen the film, everything I understand about it suggests that it’s tried to ground the story in familiar popular historical reference points–namely World War II and the rise of Freudian analysis. the only thing I can think of is that its limited release hasn’t done nearly as well as anticipated, which would account for the fact that it isn’t being widely shown.
At this point, we have only to wait and see, and hope that we won’t be royally disappointed.

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