Monday, April 25, 2011

Caliban to the rescue?

Be not afeard: the isle is full of noises,

Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments 
Will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,

Will make me sleep again; ..

.. and then, in dreaming,

The clouds methought would open and show riches

Ready to drop upon me, that, when I waked,

I cried to dream again.

Echoes from The Tempest, seductively slipped into the screenplay of our latest popular film on the house of Windsor, are heard as the speech therapist entertains his precocious children with intimations of Caliban. Shards of stimulating perception seep into this propagandistic movie with some persistence, giving us a monarch of complete consciousness that he's to become a dustjacket for an Establish-ment under siege in its own House. Inevitably, the comparison of deformity - a quality of Caliban's, and of his elder brother - with impediment, his own, frightening burden, is shouldered by more familiar means: an auditioning of Richard III's chilling Winter of our discontent, in which the speech therapist-casting prospect is rejected for inadequate sex appeal. That spectacle of the conspiring regicide resurfaces, as the elder brother is heard to accuse him of it, and as the younger brother - now his successor as monarch - muses that it was indelicate of him to survive.

Fortunately for gross sales, the sentimental impetus of the film is to justify a dustjacket whose weddings must cost billions, in a world where any müllerin is fobbed off with millions. Every now and again, as the blogosphere reminds us by the minute, adoration must be paid to caste. Here, Edward VIII is presented as a neurotic figure from The Damned, Visconti's masterpiece on Junker degeneracy in that war which would make a hero out of George VI.

Sadly, it's that very myth, that war is worth it for the polishing of crowns, that drags this movie back to Graham Greene's pleasure dome from its pretenses to the stage. For this, we are given the rising strains of the Eroica's Funeral March, and the Emperor concerto. But it was stimulating to be stimulated while it lasted, to be reminded by cinema that we rehearse our sleep as long as it takes, to endure the day with dreams. We want another Windsor wedding, and it seems we're likely to get one, with History as our flawless ironist: setting off the glamorous heir against a parent of congenital quirkiness, to vindicate one of common impulsiveness.

i, Valéry Lorenzo

Tom Hooper, director
David Seidler, screenplay
The King's Speech
The Weinstein Company, 2010©


  1. I'll send you some pics from the Windsor wedding. Hope the Queen does not wear a big hat, I'll be sitting right behind her!

  2. That is not a "big hat," Tassos; it's the great crown of state. And those pretty colored candies? They make very good eating, but leave them, and help yourself to the clear ones. You may barter them back for the Elgin marbles.

  3. & you also know as all your real readers devoted-You are too clever for your own good- and to our great delight-as the footnotes out shine the postings (sometime). do you suppose the net "fact"(were there such a thing)of 7 million to raking in with scepter profit 20 mil pounds really real?

  4. I hadn't heard the rate of return yet. That's a rather pleasant conversion of loaves and fishes, at that; more kings, fewer kingdoms?