Not So Glorious A King?
Virtually every film "based on" a real event or a real person is eventually picked apart by critics who find inaccuracies in it. Last year, for example, Fair Game, the movie that dealt with the "outing" of CIA operative Valerie Plame by the Bush administration, was blasted from the right and left for distorting actual facts. The Social Network was criticized by Mark Zuckerberg, the subject of the movie, as a "big disconnect" from reality. Now, as it speeds apparently unobstructed to winning this year's best picture Oscar, The King's Speech has become the latest film of 2010 to be taken to task for distorting history. Writing in the online Slate magazine, British-American media critic Christopher Hitchens suggests that the movie presents a far-too-sympathetic portrait of King George VI. He notes that both he and his brother were prominent appeasers of Hitler. (Edward VIII after abdicating honeymooned in Germany with his bride, Wallace Simpson, where he greeted Hitler and was filmed saluting him, "seig heil" style.) George VI prominently backed Neville Chamberlain's treaty with Hitler over Czechoslovakia, appearing on the palace balcony with him before Parliament had a chance to debate the deal. "The opposition forces wee checkmated before the game had begun," Hitchens wrote, concluding that the movie's rehabilitation of the King amounts to a "major desecration of the historical record -- now apparently gliding unopposed toward a baptism by Oscar."