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Wick's Review

Created Apr 12, 2015 05:14PM PST • Edited Apr 22, 2015 12:04AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    Fascinating history lessons are rarely tremendously entertaining, yet The Madness of King George is both. Frequently funny, often charming, it’s nevertheless chockablock with important historical insights about the British government, crown and class system, and the ignorant barbarity of pre-modern medical care.

    This mostly true story of the 1788 Regency Crisis is rich with irony. For starters, a monarch who is coddled like, well, like the King of England, still has to endure medical care that is little more than cruel quackery. Further, he hasn’t come to terms with the loss of America a decade on. Finally, the King had an active role in the government back then, so a sudden onset of mental illness throws his court and the entire British system for a loop. It also throws into relief the various absurdities of their archaic system of government.

    Wow, that’s a lot. Yet it all flows like a monarch’s ermine cape in this magnificent movie. The brilliant cast and posh period trappings get much of the credit for that charm. Sir Nigel Hawthorne and Dame Helen Mirren are ideal as “Mr. King” and “Mrs. King”, their character’s pet names suggesting the great chemistry that Hawthorne and Mirren have with one another. Plus, their regal attire, castles and carriages are dazzling.

    The Madness of King George brings to mind the somewhat similar albeit more modern story told in The King’s Speech. Royal disabilities make them unusually insightful and richly entertaining cinematic treats.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Nigel Hawthorne mesmerizes as a mercurial King of England whose affect ranges from energetic haughtiness to abject madness and pitiable decrepitude. No wonder Sir Nigel was nominated for an Academy Award. He knew the role well, having originated it in the stage play from which the movie was derived. Interestingly, he was a good decade older than the real George III was during the events depicted.

    Helen Mirren has made a partial career from Queens of England, here the German-born Queen Charlotte. Coincidentally, the great Mirren was born at London’s Queen Charlotte Hospital.

    Real Historical Characters across the board
  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Perfect 5.0

    British royalty – back when they were the most important people in the world – make a fine canvas on which to depict human drama. The Madness of King George adds in civic drama – politics in wigs.

    Fun Fact

    George III’s sister married the King of Denmark, who was also crazy.
    Her ultimately tragic story is the subject of the dazzling Danish movie A Royal Affair.

    Iconic Scene: Handbell Ringers serenade the King, Queen and Court.
  9. Direction Perfect 5.0

    Nicholas Hytner

  10. Play Perfect 5.0

    Alan Bennett wrote the stage play and screenplay. Brilliant and bawdy.

    An example of the latter: “I’m praying, Goddamit.”

  11. Music Great 4.0

    Music introduces scene with real string sections – smooth.

  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0

    Filmed at castles, just not the real castles. Arundel Castle in West Sussex & Wilton House near Salisbury in Wiltshire stand in for Windsor Castle, exterior & Interior.

    • 16 Costumers
    • 16 Carpenters
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.8

    The King’s mental illness – his madness – is painful to view, his restraint-based 1780’s psychiatric treatment more so. Porphyria is most often blamed today.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.7
  16. Violence Fierce 1.7
  17. Rudeness Salty 2.1
  18. Glib 1.2

    In some cultures he could be viewed as holy, not in Britain. Yet he had absurd privileges, until he didn’t. Mental Illness trumps everything, even for the King of England.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.5
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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