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The Madness of King George

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Madness of King George

Starring: Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren
Director: Nichaolas Hyter
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 110 Minutes
Release Date: December 1994
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Ian Holm, Rupert Everett, Rupert Graves, John Wood, Amanda Donohoe, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Julian Wadham

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE is a movie based on the play titled THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III. It tells a little known story of King George III of England during the time (1789) right after he had "lost the Colonies." (I have been told it was retitled for the US because American audiences during the test marketing thought it was a sequel and wondered what happened in parts I and II, but I think that is just probably just another urban legend.)

The king (Nigel Hawthorne) is a strong-headed man who seems to those around him to be acting stranger and stranger. His estranged first son (Rupert Everett) seizes upon this and decides to try to get his old man declared insane in which case he would get to be Prince Regent. This would effectively make him king, and, most important of all, he would then get all of the king's vast income and wealth.

The loyal queen (Helen Mirren) stands by her man. Meanwhile Parliament splits on who to back with both sides caring only about politics and not a wit about the king or the prince. The king's side turns to a doctor played by Ian Holm. Finally, Amanda Plummer plays a loyal lady-in-waiting to the Queen who is willing to do absolutely anything to help her queen. Many twists and turns from there with an ending you may have some trouble predicting if you are not up on your British history of that era.

The historical story is fascinating and is the only reason to see the movie. The period costumes are well done, and the sets are carefully chosen. The acting is earnest, and Hawthorne does try awfully hard to present a believable madman.

On the bad side, the movie is extremely tedious and pedantic. For example, I lost count of how many times the scriptwriter had us hear about the color of the king's "water" and "stool." Moreover, we had to have numerous didactic lectures from doctors about the exact color of the king's "water" and much speculation on what the color meant. The best doctors in the land were also treated as nothing but quacks. Perhaps they were, but I wonder about the historical accuracy of this caricature. Finally, although the actors tried to give their best performances, I found that I did not care about any of the characters as written, and this comes from a guy who has taken seven vacations to Britain and who knows a lot of English history.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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