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The Madness of King George

September 5, 2010

The Madness of King George (1994)
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Actors: Nigel Hawthorne, Ian Holm, Rupert Everett

Synopsis: King George III (Nigel Hawthorne) falls under the spell of a mystery illness, and many of his detractors – including his son, The Prince of Wales (Rupert Everett) – attempt to use it as a ploy to get him labelled ‘insane’, so the Prince of Wales can ascend the throne.

Review: It is no surprise Nicholas Hytner decided to turn the stage run of Alan Bennett’s “The Madness of George III” into a film, as its constituent elements are akin to a form of cinematic gold dust. The story lends itself so naturally to the screen with its classic three-act structure, and the generous number of juicy character parts must have been major enticement to a bevy of talented British thespians. It goes without saying that Nigel Hawthorne’s central turn is an absolute tour de force, mining the complete spectrum of emotions from comedy to despondency with the utmost believability. Even more importantly, everywhere you look there are little gems of support performances, not least a pitch-perfect sardonic number from John Wood as a bemused politician. Nicholas Hytner struggles somewhat in making the project truly cinematic, his most innovative technique is when tracking the camera through the various rooms of Windsor Castle, approximating George’s fevered state. That aside, judged as an exercise in cinematic adaptation and the accessibility of the end-product, it’s an unmitigated success. (August 2010)

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