Madness Of King George

Overview

Based on Alan Bennett's acclaimed play The Madness of George III, The Madness of King George takes a dark-humored look at the mental decline of King George III of England. The film's story begins nearly three decades into George's reign, in 1788, as the unstable king Nigel Hawthorne, reprising his stage role begins to show signs of increasing dementia, from violent fits of foul language to bouts of forgetfulness. This weakness seems like the perfect chance to overthrow the unpopular George, whom many blamed for ...
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Overview

Based on Alan Bennett's acclaimed play The Madness of George III, The Madness of King George takes a dark-humored look at the mental decline of King George III of England. The film's story begins nearly three decades into George's reign, in 1788, as the unstable king Nigel Hawthorne, reprising his stage role begins to show signs of increasing dementia, from violent fits of foul language to bouts of forgetfulness. This weakness seems like the perfect chance to overthrow the unpopular George, whom many blamed for the loss of the American colonies, in favor of the Prince of Wales Rupert Everett, but the king's prime minister William Pitt Julian Wadham and his wife Queen Charlotte Helen Mirren are determined to protect the throne. Doctors are brought in, but the archaic treatments of the time prove of little value. In desperation, they turn to Dr. Willis Ian Holm, a harsh, unconventional specialist whose unusual methods recall modern psychiatry. Willis struggles to break through to the mad king, treating him with an anger and haughtiness George has never before experienced. Stressing the absurdity of the entire situation, Bennett's witty screenplay emphasizes dry humor over tragedy, even utilizing references to King Lear for comic effect. Hawthorne's fiery yet vulnerable performance received much critical praise, including Best Actor at the British Academy Awards and a nomination for the same at the Oscars.
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
Adapted for the screen from Alan Bennett's hit London stage production by Bennett himself, The Madness of King George is an ebullient, witty, and surprisingly sympathetic portrait of the insanity of politics and the politics of insanity. Directed with grace and assurance by first-time director Nicholas Hytner, the film manages to strike a balance between scatological irreverence and subdued tenderness in its treatment of its titular subject. Portrayed as both a blundering autocrat and a genuinely disturbed man, George is brought to life by Nigel Hawthorne who also played him on the stage in a performance that carries the entire film. He is ably supported by a cast of seasoned performers, most notably Helen Mirren as his long-suffering but loving wife, and Ian Holm as the irascible Dr. Willis, the physician who attempts to treat the king through a variety of unorthodox methods. Hawthorne's scenes with both Mirren and Holm provide the film with its more memorable and lucid moments, and they layer his character with added dimensions. The affectionate interludes between the king and his wife communicate genuine poignancy, while the battle of wills between the king and Dr. Willis provides the film with its centerpiece. At the end of it all, Hawthorne emerges triumphant, his George III scarred but spirited, willing to fight the good fight until he can fight no more. — Rebecca Flint
All Movie Guide
Adapted for the screen from Alan Bennett's hit London stage production by Bennett himself, The Madness of King George is an ebullient, witty, and surprisingly sympathetic portrait of the insanity of politics and the politics of insanity. Directed with grace and assurance by first-time director Nicholas Hytner, the film manages to strike a balance between scatological irreverence and subdued tenderness in its treatment of its titular subject. Portrayed as both a blundering autocrat and a genuinely disturbed man, George is brought to life by Nigel Hawthorne (who also played him on the stage) in a performance that carries the entire film. He is ably supported by a cast of seasoned performers, most notably Helen Mirren as his long-suffering but loving wife, and Ian Holm as the irascible Dr. Willis, the physician who attempts to treat the king through a variety of unorthodox methods. Hawthorne's scenes with both Mirren and Holm provide the film with its more memorable and lucid moments, and they layer his character with added dimensions. The affectionate interludes between the king and his wife communicate genuine poignancy, while the battle of wills between the king and Dr. Willis provides the film with its centerpiece. At the end of it all, Hawthorne emerges triumphant, his George III scarred but spirited, willing to fight the good fight until he can fight no more.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/23/1996
  • UPC: 707729650133
  • Original Release: 1994
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Nigel Hawthorne George III
Helen Mirren Queen Charlotte
Ian Holm Dr. Willis
Rupert Everett Prince of Wales
Rupert Graves Greville
Amanda Donohoe Lady Pembroke
John Wood Thurlow
Julian Rhind-Tutt Duke of York
Roger Ashton-Griffiths MP
Alan Bennett 2nd MP
Selina Cadell Mrs Cordwell
Anthony Calf Fitzroy
Jim Carter Fox
Jeremy Child Black Rod
Janine Duvitski Margaret Nicholson
Joanna Hall Royal Child
Roger Hammond Baker
David Leon Footman
Russell Martin Royal Child
Geoffrey Palmer Warren
Struan Rodger Dundas
Nicholas Selby Speaker
Cyril Shaps Pepys
Barry Stanton Sheridan
Robert Swann 1st MP
Julian Wadham Pitt
Peter Woodthorpe Clergyman
Technical Credits
Nicholas Hytner Director
Ken Adam Production Designer
Tariq Anwar Editor
Alan Bennett Screenwriter
Mark Cooper Producer
David Crozier Sound/Sound Designer
Andrew Dunn Cinematographer
Stephen Evans Producer
John Fenner Art Director
George Fenton Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Celestia Fox Casting
David Parfitt Producer
Carolyn Scott Set Decoration/Design
Mary Soan Asst. Director
Mark Thompson Costumes/Costume Designer
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