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The Madness of King George

The Madness of King George
Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirra, Ian Holm and Rupert Graves

Rated: No rating 
Reviewed by: Linda  
Release date: December 28, 1994 Released by: Samuel Goldwyn Company

Nigel Hawthorne rightfully deserves the Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for bringing to the screen the role of King George III, a role he played on the stage for nearly three years. Director Nicholas Hytner has created an enjoyable, heartwarming film.

During King George III's 60 year reign (1760-1820) he did, in fact, temporarily lose his mind...along with the permanent and equally shattering loss of the American colonies. While his bizarre behavior certainly mimicked mental illness, he actually suffered from a metabolic imbalance which plagued him on and off from its onset in 1788 until his death in 1820.

Having seen this film on the heels of Tom and Viv, a film which also explores the debilitating effect of mental illness, I can naturally see parallels in the films. While Viv and King George III lived in different periods in history and had different physical ailments, they each suffered under the care of physicians who could not effectively treat their conditions and who, on the contrary, added to their trauma. Both characters, Viv as a woman and King George III as royalty, had a narrow range of behavior which they had to adhere to be seen as respectable. While both Viv and King George III exhibited strange behavior, they were more closely scrutinized because of who they were. In King George's case the very future of the English monarchy, with the threat of parliamentary control, rested on his sanity.

My heart went out to the King and to his devoted wife, Queen Charlotte (Helen Mirra). The poor man realized that he was losing his sanity and was then tortured by well-meaning doctors who attempted to cure him. Although it was, at times, as zany as the previews had promised, I was surprised by the sweetness of the characters and the touching performance by Nigel Hawthorne. Hawthorne has brilliantly captured his character's many moods and fluctuation presence of mind. I also enjoyed seeing Ian Holm and Rupert Graves, who starred in two of my favorite film, Chariots of Fire and A Room With a View respectively.

  Frank Chris Linda  Avg. 
The Madness of King George        B+   B+ 

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