“The King’s Speech is an anesthetic movie, The Social Network an invigorating one — and their scripts’ departures from the historical record serve utterly divergent purposes,” wrote New Yorker/”Front Row” critic Richard Brody earlier today. “The inaccuracies in The King’s Speech and The Social Network are as different in kind as the movies are different in quality.
“The tale of royal triumph through a commoner’s efforts expurgates the story in order to render its characters more sympathetic, whereas the depiction of Mark Zuckerberg as a lonely and friendless genius (when, in fact, he has long been in a relationship with one woman) serves the opposite purpose: to render him more ambiguous, to challenge the audience to overcome antipathy for a character twice damned, by reasonable women, as an ‘asshole.’
“Imagine if George VI, working to overcome his stammer, were seen at his balcony endorsing Neville Chamberlain‘s Munich agreement (as, in fact, happened), or had expressed a preference, as N.Y. Times Review of Books‘ Martin Filler writes, for ‘the appeaser Lord Halifax to Churchill as [Chamberlain’s] replacement.’ It might have made the movie more surprising and more complex than the pap that’s currently enjoying an outpouring of undeserved honors.
“P.S. My colleague Nancy Franklin tweeted a link to a recording of King George VI’s actual speech of September 3, 1939. It shows up the bland prowess of Colin Firth’s performance. Listen to the exotic, perhaps now-extinct tang of the actual king’s vowels, and his hint of vibrato, and compare them to Colin Firth‘s dulled-down inflections. There’s as little flavor to his speech as to the movie itself.”