HIS MAJESTY WAS ALL POWERFUL AND ALL KNOWING. BUT HE WASN’T QUITE ALL THERE.
In 1788, King George III of England (Nigel Hawthorne) starts acting peculiarly for no obvious reason and his son, Prince George (Rupert Everett), conspires to have him dethroned. First-time director Nicholas Hytner knows his way around the theater, but successfully turns the play into a very cinematic experience. Hawthorne is magnificent and gripping, raising hell as George III, whose behavior apparently could be blamed on porphyria. The film effectively criticizes the warped institution that is the monarchy, but avoids turning its characters into caricatures. Helen Mirren, Ian Holm and Everett turn in beautiful supporting performances; handsomely shot, with opulent production design.
1994-Britain-U.S. 107 min. Color. Produced by Stephen Evans, David Parfitt. Directed by Nicholas Hytner. Screenplay, Play: Alan Bennett (”The Madness of George III”). Art Direction: Ken Adam. Cast: Nigel Hawthorne (George III), Helen Mirren (Charlotte), Ian Holm (Dr. Willis), Rupert Everett (Prince George), Rupert Graves, John Wood.
Trivia: The title of the movie was changed from that of the play; there was fear that less gifted moviegoers might think this is the third film in a series. Hawthorne played the King on stage as well.
Oscar: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration. Cannes: Best Actress (Mirren). BAFTA: Best British Film, Actor (Hawthorne), Makeup/Hair.
Quote: “I am the King. I tell, I am not told. I am the verb, sir, not the object.” (Hawthorne to Holm)
Last word: “The royal family is embarrassed by George. A lot of them have seen the film. When we did the stage version, Prince Charles came and saw it and the film version afterwards. It’s a highly sympathetic account of a king who had been maltreated, who was ill when he was being treated as insane. I don’t think the royal family ever felt that this would be something they wouldn’t applaud. […] My career took on wings after the Academy Award nomination. Without that, I would have probably floundered around a bit.” (Hawthorne, Pitch Weekly)