Saturday, February 19, 2011

Class conflict ...

... Why 'King's Speech' Leaves Me Stuttering. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I haven't seen The King's Speech, though I intend to. Debbie has seen it, and thought it was wonderful. I have seen the new version of True Grit, and it's OK, but it lacks the joie de vivre of the original. Oh, I know the new one is supposed to be truer to Charles Portis's novel. But being faithful to novels is not what the films based on novels are supposed to be about. If you want fidelity to the novel, read the novel. A film is an independent work of art and should be judged on its own terms, not the terms of the work on which it is based. Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train is far from faithful to Patricia Highsmith's novel, but it is one of Hitchcock's best films. The new True Grit seems longer than it is, because it is slower than it needs to be. The real difference between the new version and the original is a matter of tempo, and the original's tempo is better.


  1. Christopher Hitchens slammed the film as well, and both writers have a point. While both deplore the upper-crust cosiness of it all, they miss themes that make the whole endeavor worthwhile -- that time plays out in forward motion, and everything comes out in the wash.

    I, for one, was relieved at the comparatively (and only comparatively) gentle treatment of Wallis Simpson. The Prince of Wales at that time had popular icon status, one that was not supported by any real strength of character -- and all that played out in forward motion. It was a bruising culture clash, as much as anything else, rather than of any overt villainy.

    The Duke and Duchess of Windsor's drift towards Germany, I believe, occurred mostly (though not entirely) after they were cut off from the government and no better informed than Diana and Unity Mitford. Similarly, George VI and his queen's affection for Chamberlain and backing of Halifax probably had more to do with class and elitism than informed political judgment. Which is, of course, the point.

    It's easy to go back and see what people should have seen in the 1930s, and their half-willed and comfortable blindness. But a more interesting question would be: What are we missing now?

  2. All excellent points, per usual, Cynthia. As for what we are we missing now, I fear it may the next black swan.