Behind every icon is a human being with the same joys and flaws as the rest of us. But when this person becomes that icon, their humanity is often forgotten.
The Crown premiered in 2016 on Netflix. It tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy). The series starts with her wedding to Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh (Matt Smith) in 1947. It appears the young couple has many years ahead of them to live as ordinarily as they can. Then Elizabeth’s father, King George VI (Jared Harris) dies. Thrust into the role of Queen, she is walking the fine line that many working mothers do between the job and taking care of your family. If that was not enough, her younger sister, Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) can only be described as a rebel who has all of the luxuries and none of the responsibilities the sovereign.
I am only the beginning of the second season. To say that I am hooked is an understatement. As both a history buff and a feminist, I find this fictional Queen Elizabeth to fascinating. She wants to be an ordinary wife and mother. But fate had other plans for her.
King George VI (father of Queen Elizabeth) was not born to be king. He was the second son. His older brother Edward (who would abdicate the thrown to marry Wallis Simpson) was heir to the throne. Known to his family as Bertie, he stammered when he spoke. No one expected him to become King Of England.
The 2010 Oscar winning movie, The Kings Speech chronicled Bertie’s transformation from a man who spoke with a stammer and suffered from crippling self esteem to a King who would become the leader that Great Britain would need when World War II broke out.
Bertie (Colin Firth) is Duke Of York and third in line to the throne after his father and older brother. His wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) seeks out a speech therapist who might help her husband. She finds Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian with an unorthodox treatment method. Bertie has seen several speech therapists, all whom have failed to cure him. He sees Lionel only to please his wife and is reluctant to accept his methods.
As events at home and in Europe enfold, Lionel and Bertie begin to move from the standard doctor/patient relationship to becoming friends. Lionel begins to see the man under the title and sees the potential. But can Bertie see that and rise to the challenge when fate (and his brother’s abdication) declare that he will be king?
This movie deserved every nomination and every award that it received. There is a universality to the movie. We all have flaws and scars. But when push comes to shove, can we rise above those flaws and scars or will they forever keep us down?
The treat of this movie, for my fellow Janeites is a mini 1995 Pride and Prejudice reunion. I’m not ashamed to say that one of the reasons I love this movie is that Tom Hooper had the good sense (knowing that he cast Colin Firth in the lead role) to cast Jennifer Ehle as Myrtle, Lionel’s wife (they have a brief scene together) and and David Bamber as the director of a theater that Lionel is auditioning for.