James Wilby (Gosford Park) and Juliet Aubrey (Middlemarch) portray the reluctant royals who became king and queen of England when Edward VIII gave up the throne for the woman he loved, on Bertie & Elizabeth. Albert, Duk... more »e of York, called Bertie, married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923 after a storybook courtship. Expecting a life of genteel obscurity, they were thrust into the limelight in 1936 when Bertie's older brother, Edward VIII, abdicated to marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. Shy, modest, and a habitual stutterer, Bertie was crowned King George VI just as his country faced the onslaught of World War II. With the help of his devoted Elizabeth, he rose magnificently to the challenge. Bertie & Elizabeth also stars Alan Bates (Love in a Cold Climate) as Bertie's father, King George V; Eileen Atkins (currently starring with Bates and Wilby in Gosford Park) as his mother, Queen Mary; Charles Edwards as Edward VIII; Amber Rose Sealey as Wallis Simpson; David Ryall as Winston Churchill; Robert Hardy (Lucky Jim) as President Franklin Roosevelt; and Corin Redgrave (Persuasion) as General Bernard Montgomery.« less
Great Costume Drama, But Historically A Bit Lacking
John D. Cofield | 01/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bertie and Elizabeth is the story of the courtship and marriage of Prince Albert, Duke of York and second son of King George V, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. This has historical significance in that Bertie and Elizabeth became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in December 1936 upon the abdication of Bertie's older brother King Edward VIII, who became Duke of Windsor. George VI and his Queen led the British monarchy through World War II and the beginning of the dissolution of the British Empire before the King died in his sleep in 1952.
The first segments of this story are well done but a bit thin in historical detail. I would like to have seen more of the difficult relations between Bertie and his parents, and I feel personally that the character of Edward VIII was drawn to be crueler than he deserved. (While there is no doubt that the Duke of Windsor was self-absorbed, he was kinder to his siblings, particularly Bertie and his stuttering problems, than this film depicts.) I also think Elizabeth's character comes off as superficial too much of the time, and that Wallis Simpson is made out to be far nastier than she deserves (I don't have much use for the Duchess of Windsor, but most of her missteps were out of ignorance rather than malevolence.) I enjoyed the scenes showing Elizabeth's working to help her husband overcome his stammer, though I rather doubt they really spent much time on the floor of the doctor's office.
The Abdication scenes and the early years of George VI's reign are well done, particularly the Royal Visit to President Roosevelt in 1939, but things get skimpy again in the World War II years. I don't understand why Elizabeth's famous comment that she could at last look the East End in the face after Buckingham Palace was bombed was left out. I also don't quite see the point of spending so much time focussed on Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and her wartime travails. Some of the characterizations of generals and politicians are very well done indeed, particularly Montgomery and Churchill. (Its nice to be reminded of Churchill's sense of humor!!) The last few segments showing the King's final years are also nice. Queen Mary's shocked reactions are used to good effect to emphasize the advent of change in the late 1940s with the election of a Labour Government. (Clement Attlee is also very well done.) I also thought Elizabeth Dermot Walsh's portrayal of Princess Elizabeth (the present Queen) as a cool headed pragmatist extremely well done.
My only real disappointment with this film is that it is too short. A six hour mini series would have covered the period with far more detail and historical accuracy. But this film does reveal the humanity and courage of a King who did his duty and of the Queen who loved and supported him. Its a nice reminder these Windsor-bashing days."
The love story of King George VI and the Queen Mum
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 03/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There was never supposed to be a Queen Elizabeth II sitting on the throne of England, anymore than there is ever supposed to be a second Queen Victoria. When the Duke of York, the second son of King George V, married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the first commoner to marry into English royalty since Anne Boelyn, it was not of any concern because his older brother David would inherit the throne as Edward VIII. When the couple had their first daughter, they named her Elizabeth and I always thought it was because he wanted to honor his wife. So when Edward VIII gave up his throne for the woman he loved, the American divorce Wallis Simpson, the Duke of York became King George VI, his wife became Queen consort, and their daughter would one day be Queen Elizabeth II.
"Bertie and Elizabeth: The Reluctant Royals - The Story of King George VI & Queen Elizabeth" begins the story right before they meet in 1920 and ends it after his death in 1952. Of course, Elizabeth then became the "Queen Mum" and the most beloved woman in England and there is some indication of why in this Masterpiece Theater movie. During the Nazi Blitz during World War II when it was suggested that the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret be taken to Canada for safety, it was the Queen consort who insisted that the family stay in London just like all of the other citizens who had no place to go. There is some indication of the affection their subjects had for the King and Queen, but mostly the scenes are set in the castles out of the public's sight. Of course, that is the attraction of such biopics.
James Wilby ("Gosford Park") and Juliet Aubrey ("Middlemarch") play Bertie and Elizabeth, with Alan Bates as King George V, Eileen Atkins as Queen Mary, Charles Edwards as Edward VIII and Amber Rose Sealey as Wallis Simpson (note: the two brothers are actually named Albert and Edward although they are called Bertie and David respectively by family and friends). This movie enhances the reputation of the title characters and they end up replacing the Duke and Duchess of Windsor as one of the great love stories of Twentieth Century. The Prince of Wales was a playboy who lied to his family, neglected his duties, and made fun of his brother's stutter. His future wife was a snob and when she puts down Elizabeth it is Wallis Simpson whose reputation takes a major hit. Of course, any and all such hits are historically justified by the objective evidence regarding the infamous couple.
Ultimately, this movie is a testament to how King George VI, considered a shy, dull-witted, colorless man married to a hopelessly plain wife, became heroic figures by their actions during the war. Edward VII and Wallis Simpson were style, but George VI and Elizabeth had substance. Even though she is another minor character in the story, the Princess Elizabeth (Elisabeth Dermot-Walsh), can still easily be seen as the product of her pragmatic parents. Queen Mary has a couple of nice scenes, as does Winston Churchill (David Ryall), but overall this is a history light version of these interesting times. That is because the emphasis is on the Reluctant Royals and the peculiar dynamics of the House of Windsor. Yet, even against that troubled backdrop the simple bonds of affection between the last King of England and the woman he loved."
A raher sugary telling of history.
S. Hebbron | Leicester UK | 03/14/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This Film tells the story of the current Queen Elizabeth's parents. Many remember well her late Mother who died very recently aged 101, her Faher is remembered for taking over the role of King from his wayward Brother who abdicated in order to marry Wallace Simpson (the divorced American, shock horror!) It plays the couple as blissfully happy young people, madly in love and not interested in royal life. It plays the Queen Mother as a sweet girl, badly treated by the nasty Mrs Simpson. It places all the major historical events in context, the abdication, WW2, the birth of Princess Elizabeth (now the Queen) and Princess Margaret (the Queen's late Sister). I'm just not sure it is as truthful as it could be, King George had a very bad stammer and was highly anxious of public speaking, he was damaged by the cruel treatment of his Father and no doubt by years at Public School; not one jot of that information is played out here. In contrast, many historians suggest that Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, or the Queen Mother as she later was, was quite keen to not persue nor accept King George, preferring his Brother who later abdicated. The reported poor relationship between she and Mrs Simpson (later the Duchess of Windsor) was 2 way street, the Duchess reportedly teased the Queen Mother about her robust figure and was aware of her jealously of her, and it was generally reported the Queen Mother treated the Duchess with comtempt and like a cheap harlot. Again the film glosses over this, maybe the makers had to be careful to keep lawyers off their back, this was screened in Britian just after the Queen Mother's death so it may help to explain it's historical engineering work and the general feeling that you are viewing a J M Barrie adaptaion, I was waiting throughout for Peter Pan to appear!; it really was that fancifull at times. Not great but worth a look, the central actors are pretty wet and unconvincing too but that seems to be a script fault."
The Spare Heir...George VI... Takes The Reins....Excellent D
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 08/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to "Bertie & Elizabeth" (DVD/WGBH Boston Video)
This production of "Bertie & Elizabeth" was originally broadcast as part of the "Masterpiece Theatre" series(seen on Public Television). James Wilby and Juliet Aubrey, do a wonderful job of portraying the younger brother and sister-in-law to Edward VIII, who would abdicate his throne to brother Bertie(becoming George VI), in favor of his love for the divorced American, Wallis Simpson.It is probably a good idea to view "Edward and Mrs. Simpson" before this one, as Edward and his love get a pretty harsh going over in this story.
Bertie & Elizabeth are portrayed as "the reluctant" King and Queen of England, both being unprepared to fill their roles. But they rise to the occasion, becoming both capable and adored by the people. Bertie even overcoming his fear of speaking because of a stutter.Adhering to his strict upbringing, he lived the more structured and traditional life of the Royals then his older brother, who even before Mrs. Simpson, was a bit of a Randy prince. Throughout the story we see in them the strengths that they have within them to lead a country through their loyalty and inspiration. Even refusing to leave the palace as it comes under attack during WWII. Then going on to pass on those strengths to their daughter Elizabeth, who has now sat on the throne for over 50 years, since her father's death.
I have to agree with the last reviewer who said, this production(at 1 hour and 45 min.) is just too short. All the other films on Royalty(Henry VIII, Edward The King, etc..) I have viewed so far, go into much more depth of the family, and the events of the times, and take several discs to tell the story of each.I usually got to spend at least a week with each Royal, viewing an episode a night. I would have liked to have had more time with this King and his Queen to get to know them and the events surrounding them, a little better.
The quality of the DVD is excellent. A sharp, clear picture with bright colors. I loved the period costumes, and the adding of some actual footage from some of the Royal parades, etc. The DVD also has some very nice features. First it is presented in the letterbox format, and I thought the sound was very good as well. You can access described video for the visually impaired. This is found on the third feature down on the main menu, access availability, which will take you to an on/off button for that. There is also Closed Captions. To get to this you must go through your TV(not DVD player) remote. So your TV must have the closed caption option available in the menu. Most TVs these days have that. There is also scene selection and access to the Masterpiece Theatre Web Site.
Not quite as enthralling or as in depth as it predecessors, but very much worth the view, and a good addition to your Royal collection.
also recommended: Edward the Seventh
Bertie and Elizabeth: an overview
Stephen C. Erskine | 10/08/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Having a thorough knowledge of the events surrounding the life of George VI of England is something of a liability when viewing Bertie and Elizabeth. Although the actress who plays his wife, Queen Elizabeth, bears some slight resemblance to her character, every other actor in this production fails in this respect. In some cases, their lack of credibility cripples this production, and at best, this is a tepid and unsatisfying look at what was an important and dramatic period in England's history."