Actor Spotlight: The Madness of King George
From Director Nicholas Hynter The Madness of King George is the 1994 adaption of the play by the same name. The film was also written by the same playwright, Alan Bennett and stars Nigel Hawthorne as King George III and Helen Mirren as Queen Charlotte, both of which were nominated for best actor and actress in 1995. The film is about George III and his fall from being the King of England during the 18th century.
We are introduced to George in 1788, five years after losing the American colonies. The opening of the film gives us a terrific look at the show that is put on for the people as King George and the royal family visit British Parliament along with their massive entourage. The King is treated like you would imagine, being catered to no matter how ridiculous his demands. Mirren is great as the strong Queen Charlotte, who stays with George at his side supporting him while he rules. Though a strong King, George soon begins to fall ill. His royal doctors put on a show of their own, performing their own brand of medicine which leads nowhere fast. George quickly falls into a state of mental illness, and soon the vultures start to circle. His son, the Prince of Wales and heir to the throne, (played by Rupert Everett), begins to scheme of ways to kick George out from his place as King.
The film eventually takes a turn and goes from being a slightly satirical and humorous film to dark and a bit depressing. Scenes of doctors simply just torturing George with their medieval methods are hard to watch. One scene shows George being held and burned with hot jars to produce blisters on his back shows us just how far medicine has come today. After the Doctors fail to do anything they bring in a specialist, Dr. Willis, played by the wonderful Ian Holm. Holm you may recognize as being Bilbo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Dr. Willis takes a different and honestly harsh approach with George, he prevents him from seeing the Queen and treats him like a child, strapping him to a chair when he gets out of line. I won’t ruin the end, but the film ended differently then I expected. We are eventually told that modern scientists believe that George was suffering from porphyria, an illness that affects the nervous system.
The costumes, sets, and locations in this film are wonderfully put together and give us a grand look at the British royal halls, streets, and countryside. The film won an Oscar in 1995 for best art direction and it truly earned it. I also loved the spectacular score, it only added to the feeling of the characters being in that time period. Hawthorne is great as King George, both as the demanding and tough King, as well as the sickly crazy man, he also makes the character of George into a tough but loveable character who you hate to see be put through something like this. The rest of the supporting cast is wonderful as well and make for scenes that are just as entertaining as those about the King. I am not totally up on British government, so I totally didn’t understand everything that was going on at certain points, but I did love to watch the men argue and bicker much like our current one. I enjoyed The Madness of King George more than I thought. If you enjoyed last year’s Oscar winner The King’s Speech I think you will like this film equally as much. Although I wasn’t as hot for Mrs. Mirren in this one as Mike may be, I am giving The Madness of King George 4 pitchforks out of 5 – “what what?!”