The Madness of King George

DailyView: Day 354, Movie 505

Who would have thought that I would become a fan of King George III? And yet, after watching The Madness of King George, I was absolutely rooting for the Mad King, and not just in the humorous way as I did in Hamilton.

This biographical historic biopic featured the reign of King George III a few years after the Colonies won their independence from England, during a time period that was known as the Regency Crisis of 1788-89. King George III (Nigel Hawthorne) began displaying tendencies of madness, unable to control his behavior, his language or his actions. The madness that had overcome the King offered an opportunity to the Prince of Wales George IV (Rupert Everett) to attempt to be named regent, and gain control over his father’s health and treatment, and, generally, over the kingship.

Queen Charlotte (Helen Mirren) was completely loyal to her husband and did what she could to aid him through his troubles, but she was eventually separated from George.

Lady Pembroke (Amanda Donohoe) recommended to George III’s prime minister and ally William Pitt the Younger (Julian Wadham) a doctor named Francis Willis (Ian Holm), a doctor she claimed that cured her mother-in-law. Dr. Willis arrived with the King and immediately asserted his control over George III.

Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales continued to push for a bill to pass through Parliament naming him regent so he could take control. The bill is delayed within the body with expectations of reports of King George III’s progress or lack thereof.

This was a fantastic movie. I loved the entire thing. I was rooting for King George, wondering why the Queen did not have more power than she did (and wondering when it switched over to the Queen who now runs the Royal family in England) and hoping that the Prince of Wales would not get his weaselly little hands on the crown (Looking it up, he does become King in 1820 when his father died and he reigned for ten years. He apparently had been regent since 1811…twenty plus years after this moment in time).

Nigel Hawthorne was utterly brilliant as the mad king. His performance made the viewers relate and root for him despite being one of the major villains portrayed during the American Revolution. The loss of the Colonies seemed to have been a contributing factor to the King’s declining mental status. There was text at the end of the film that also indicated that King George may have been suffering from a disease called porphyria which was a factor in the changing color of the King’s urine.

Hawthorne and Helen Mirren were amazing together, sharing remarkable chemistry and a connection that made it completely believable that they had been together for years. I love Helen Mirren and she was spectacular playing off Hawthorne.

The movie was exceptionally well written, with both a great deal of humor and dramatic moments. There is a wonderful scene of King George reading from Shakespeare’s King Lear that works so well. The cleverness of the writing and the beautiful design of the costumes and sets truly do all work together to create a masterful piece of entertainment.

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