Bonnie and I went to see “The King’s Speech” on Friday evening with a couple of good friends and I have been thinking about this movie since then. I am an Anglophile to begin so the movie began with me much more likely to embrace it. The acting performances (particularly Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush) were incredible and the back drama of the looming crisis of World War II added to the mix. As a bonus we get a scene which features the most creatively hilarious use of profanity (particularly the f-bomb) in any movie since “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”.
But as good as the movie was, none of that has been what has occupied my thoughts. The crux of the movie (at least in my estimation) is about the choice that Firth’s character (the eventual King George VI) has to embrace his identity, his responsibilities and thereby fulfill his destiny. It is about bravery and healing from past wounds. It is about the nature of friendship and the role it can play in facilitating healing. As I have turned this movie over and over in my mind the past few days, there are a few thoughts that recur.
1. The role of a father. King George VI’s father has crushed his son’s spirit. Most of the woundedness of Firth’s character revolves around the lack of encouragement and approval from his father. Oh, how I want to be a source of healing and encouragement to my sons. I want to prepare them for their destiny, not put obstacles in their way.
2. The relationship of destiny and responsibility. Firth’s character didn’t want the throne. He feared his responsibility to speak because he was wounded and embarrassed by his perceived weakness. But he also felt a deep sense of responsibility and wanted to do the right thing. At the end of the day doesn’t that describe our own sense of calling, destiny and responsibility? We tend to fear our destiny because we are ashamed of our weakness. We are afraid that we just don’t measure up to the task that we are given.
3. The blessings of a friend. The speech therapist (played by Geoffrey Rush) helps King George VI to overcome his speech problems so that he can fulfill his responsibility to speak publicly. But what he really gives to the King is friendship. One of the most destructive things that our woundedness can do to us is isolate us. It makes us feel as if we are alone. It separates us from encouragement and leaves us with voices of condemnation and shame. But a friend can break through all of this. Two thoughts come to mind. The title of a great old hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” describes the ministry of Jesus in our lives in these terms. But how often do we think of Jesus as our Friend? And how much healing and freedom are bound up in that simple thought. Jesus is our Friend. He is on our side. He is for us. The other is one of my all-time favorite movie scenes (and literary characters). At the end of Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation of “The Fellowship of the Ring”, the character of Samwise refuses to let Frodo go into Mordor alone, risking his life to join him. For me the ultimate hero of the entire trilogy is Sam. He is one of the ultimate examples in literature of a simple, common man who becomes great by just doggedly continuing to do the right thing. And his motivation isn’t some grand scheme or great cause. It is just friendship and the love of his homeland. When we look at the relationships that we have, we should never underestimate the pure heroism of being a friend to those around us.
If you haven’t seen “The King’s Speech”, I can’t recommend it more highly.