Discussion questions for The King’s Speech
1) What are your first impressions of the film? First impressions aren’t considered conclusions; they’re what you’re left thinking of in the moments after the film ends.
2) Contrast the brothers, David and Albert. How are they similar; in what do they differ and why? Which attracts you more and why?
3) Contrast Albert and Lionel. Aside from their professional relationship, what do you think attracted them to one another? Was theirs, in your opinion, an unlikely friendship?
4) What visual images from the film stand out most strongly in your mind? Lionel is shown most often against an inviting backdrop–a fireplace or a chair—while Albert is shown more often in space—in a large room or in front of a blank wall. How does this influence the way you feel about each character?
5) While he never pretends to be a medical doctor, Lionel makes no effort in the film to make sure Albert knows he isn’t one, which leads to an embarrassing moment later. In your opinion is this less than honest and worthy of criticism? Or is Lionel the victim of society’s overemphasis on credentials?
6) David also gave a famous speech—his announcement that he has stepped down as king—that isn’t heard in this film. It includes these words:
“You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce the throne. But I want you to understand that in making up my mind I did not forget the country or the empire, which, as Prince of Wales and lately as King, I have for twenty-five years tried to serve.
But you must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.
And I want you to know that the decision I have made has been mine and mine alone. This was a thing I had to judge entirely for myself. The other person most nearly concerned has tried up to the last to persuade me to take a different course.
I have made this, the most serious decision of my life, only upon the single thought of what would, in the end, be best for all.”
Discuss this quote. Do you admire David’s decision to abdicate? If so, why? If not, why not?
7) There were many objections to David’s marriage to Wallis Simpson—social, political, and moral—but only one with legal grounding. Mrs. Simpson’s first divorce was not recognized by the Anglican Church and, therefore, might not have been considered legal in a British court. So David in marrying her might have been guilty of bigamy. Do you think David should have been allowed to marry her and continue as king? Defend your answer.
8) Define freedom. How would Albert, Lionel, and David define it? (That’s 3 more definitions, not one shared.)
9) In one of the film’s pivotal moments, Lionel, deliberately goading Albert to anger, asks “Why should I listen to you?” Discuss Albert’s reply: “Because I have a voice!”