Written by Alan Bennett from his stage play and featuring a towering performance by Nigel Hawthorne, and a stunning screen directorial debut (Variety) by Tony Award winner* Nicholas Hytner, this Academy AwardÂ(r)-winning... more »** masterpiece of royal intrigue ispotent, engrossing and thrilling (Los Angeles Times). Just five years after losing the 'rebellious colonies, it appears that England's King George III (Hawthorne) is now losing his mind! Suddenly, the stately monarch is hallucinating, shouting obscenities, behaving lewdly towards the Queen's (Helen Mirren) comelylady-in-waiting and generally becoming a candidate for the lunatic asylum. The palace doctors are baffled, but the Prince of Wales (Rupert Everett), tired of playing the waiting game, conspires to take advantage of the situation. Will the King's supporters be able to restore their monarch's wits before he's stripped of his throne? *1994: Director (Musical), Carousel **1994: Art Direction« less
"This is a marvelous period piece that deals with an intriguing subject: the apparently intermittent madness of King George III. Nigel Hawthorne brilliantly plays the role of the King, creating a benevolent personage, a sort of aristocratic populist, who is, at heart, a family man. Yet, he understands, all too well, his role as King. His Queen, a loving and caring wife, is played to perfection by Helen Mirren. Rupert Everett wonderfully plays the part of their eldest son, the indolent Prince of Wales.
The King begins his strange journey along the highway of dementia by shouting obscenities and behaving in a shockingly unseemly fashion towards his Queen's gorgeous lady-in-waiting, Lady Pembroke, played to ice maiden perfection by the always stunning Amanda Donohoe. He undergoes a total personality change. His doctor is mystified by these mental, as well as physical changes, which are broken up by moments of lucidity.
The Prince of Wales see this weakness in his father as an opportunity for him to make a bid for control of the crown, and he rallies a slew of supporters. The ensuing palace intrigues depict the gamesmanship in which the King's supporters involve themselves in order for the King not to lose his crown in addition to his wits. The only question is whether the King will succeed in recovering his wits in a timely enough fashion in order for them to prevail.
This is a wonderful film with a first class supporting cast. The production values and cinematography are also first rate, and the film won an Oscar in 1994 for its art direction. The film also addresses an issue that did, in fact, arise during the reign of King George III. It is now believed that the King may have suffered from a hereditary illness of the nervous system known as Porphyria. In any case, this is a brilliant, award caliber film that lovers of historical dramas and period pieces will, no doubt, enjoy. Bravo!"
I'm here, but I'm not all there
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 09/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The year--1788. The loss of that place that must not be mentioned by England has gradually sent King George III down the slope to insanity, so some ministers say. His emotional rantings, rushing out in the early morning in bedclothes with his attendants in tow, and even an imagined flight from a flood causes tumult within the Royal household. Some actions in his "catalog of regal nonconformities" are harmless, as he plays cricket with a group of peasant children, and visits a farmer, admiring the pigs.This causes a political struggle between the Whigs and Tories. Prince George, the future George IV, wants the take advantage of his father's deterioration to be named Regent, translation: "king in all but name and all the power, subject to Parliament... and certainly all the funds." He also wants his secret marriage Maria Fitzherbert, a Catholic widow, to be recognized in the open. In this, he has enlisted Charles James Fox, former foreign secretary under Rockingham and now an opposition leader who supports America to the point of saying, "If a few ramshackle colonists can send him packing why can't we?", Doctor Warner, and later, the Lord Chancellor, Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow. Supporting the king is William Pitt the Younger, prime minister (1783-1801), who advocates parliamentary procedure and insists that Parliament has the right to decide who should be regent and under what terms. Queen Charlotte and Lady Pembroke, the king's mistress, are also on the king's side, as is his new equerry, the eager and loyal Captain Greville. The political struggle is another type of madness, as it has torn at the fabric of the government that is the envy of all nations.The king's contempt for doctors is shown when he rants at Dr. Baker, who has given him senna, a mild purgative. "Mild? Forteen motions and you call it mild? I could have manured the whole palace." His views on sleep are amusing, as he wakes his handlers at four AM. "Six hours is enough for a man. Seven for a woman, and eight for a fool." That places me between a woman and a fool, then.The role of the royal family as the symbol of England is also an issue. Prince George wants to do something, like handle some things in government. A line from his mother as they wave to their public is telling. "Smile, you lazy hound. It's what you're paid for. Smile and wave." I wonder Prince Charles has heard that from his mum.The classical music score includes Handel's Water Music, adding to the splendour of the Georgian court. And this is based on Alan Bennett's play, Bennett of course being a collaborator of Dudley Moore, Peter Cook, and Tim Brook-Taylor in the 1960's. However, the sobering lack of knowledge of porphyria, which is the modern diagnosis of what ailed the king, and is a hereditary metabolic disorder of which George suffered acutely and intermittently, is also a kind of madness of the ignorance of 18th century medicine. Yet, Dr. Willis does the best he can in avoiding the usual pronouncements and recommendations of the court physicians.Nigel Hawthorne should've gotten a Best Actor award from some ceremony for playing the monarch, displaying the manic ups and downs, and sufferings of George III with great aplomb. Ian Holm gets the next honours as Dr. Willis, who stubbornly defies convention and sees the king nor as the king, but as a patient, and dares to look him in the eyes. Helen Mirren of Prime Suspect is Charlotte and Rupert Everett does a good turn as the Prince. However, Julian Wadham plays Pitt with great dignity and honour. And Geoffrey Palmer (As Time Goes By) is Warner. Also, the petitioner who attacks the king is played by Janine Duvititski (Jane in the Waiting For God series). Interesting look at one of the most misunderstood monarchs of England, what what?"
Funny, poignant, exhilarating: A test on your emotions
Margaret P Harvey | Charlottesville, Va United States | 02/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Madness of King George is simply the best movie I have seen in many years. The first thing that attracted me to the movie was the costumes: they are impeccable. The set, costume, and makeup: there is no cause for complaints there and many, many reasons for praise. But the most remarkable thing about this movie is how well each actor fits his or her part, and the pace of this drama. First of all, the acting is wonderful, but this movie was also wonderfully casted. Nigel Hawthorne blew me away with his hilarious, deep and believable portrayal of George III. His madness was heartbreaking and painful for the audience and his sane George the Third was funny in such a way that you couldn't help but root for him. Rupert Everett was simply so detestable that by the end of the movie I couldn't watch any movie with him in it without feeling a little hostile. Helen Mirren is, as always, pitch perfect in her portrayal and absolutely beautiful as Queen Charlotte. The environment created by this wonderful ensemble cast makes the movie exciting and the kind of film that elicits a real emotional response. Who knew that you could feel suspense, pain, happiness and exhilaration from a costume drama about a dead king? As soon as you put this movie in your DVD player you will be hooked, entranced and entertained. If you are even a mild fan of historical dramas, give this movie a chance. It'll only take a few moments for you to love it."
A Fantastic Bittersweet film!
Margaret P Harvey | 11/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a triumph of acting. Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren shine in this movie. While it has been criticised that Helen's German accent comes and goes, I think it was acceptable. Accents are just funny that way. And Mirren's acting makes up for it, especially in the "Do you think you are mad" scene after the Handel concert.
Ian Holm gives a superb performance as the determined little "mad doctor".
The costumes are stunning, the music (all Handel, George's favorite) gorgeous and brilliantly adapted, the story is bittersweet, at times painful, other times painfully funny! This movie is an underrated little gem.
Wish the DVD held more features such as behind the scenes or actors bios or something! It's seriously lacking in that department, but doesn't detract from a wonderful film!
Recommended for all Anglophiles."
An Excellent Historical Film!
Tiggah | Calgary, Alberta Canada | 10/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Born in 1738, George III went on to become England's second-longest-ruling monarch, clocking in at nearly 60 years (only his grand daughter, Victoria, ruled longer). In 1788, however, the King took ill with severe stomach pains followed by severe mental instability and derangement. One of the dominant characteristics (amongst other things) was an uncontrollable (and often obscene), unstoppable, delusional, rapid, rambling speech which often went on for hours on end. The illness lasted only a few months, but it is this period that is the subject of the film. Although George III certainly had his faults (not to mention the odd peculiarity), he was nonetheless a conscientious, responsible, and uncommonly down-to-earth monarch and a very honourable, morally upright man who was devoted to his family. His eldest son, the Prince of Wales, could not have been more different, however. He was a gambler, a womanizer, and a spendthrift who was chronically short of money. For him and his like-minded cronies, a Regency would be a godsend. So they attempted to have Parliament pass a bill to that effect. One has here all the elements necessary for a ripping good story, and although liberties have necessarily been taken both for the sake of art and entertainment and in order to squeeze the story into 110 minutes, the film does a better job than many with the facts. As for the acting, it is quite simply unsurpassed. The performance by the late Nigel Hawthorne (Yes Minister/Prime Minister, Mapp & Lucia) as George III is simply breathtaking--sheer perfection. Hawthorne (who sadly died on Boxing Day 2001) was even nominated for an Academy Award for his role. Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect) is splendid as his wife, Charlotte; while Rupert Everett effortlessly evokes our loathing as the dissolute Prince of Wales.George III has, in the 20th century, been posthumously diagnosed as likely having had porphyria (a rare hereditary disorder). For those unfamiliar with his reign, although he did indeed recover from his illness and go on to have many years of good health, the illness eventually caught up with him. In 1801, he suffered a relapse and was dogged with recurring bouts of illness over the following few years, not to mention failing eyesight. The final blow was struck in 1810 when his youngest daughter took ill and died. The King's health and sanity deteriorated to the point where he could no longer rule and a Regency was established in February 1811. He died in 1820.I enjoy English history and historical biographies immensely, and I enjoyed this film. I would certainly recommend it to others with a similar interest, but I would also recommend it to anyone who simply enjoys a good period drama. I would also recommend, for those looking for a more in-depth treatment of the life of George III, the biography entitled George III--A Personal History by Christopher Hibbert."