by Daniel Walber
Play adaptations are frequently criticized for not being “cinematic” enough. It’s as perennial a complaint as it is a silly one. Many of the best play adaptations don’t abandon their more theatrical elements, they use cinema’s unique capabilities as an especially potent additive.
The Madness of King George is a great example, a film that juxtaposes the visual freedom of on-location shooting with the precision of period sets. Adapted by Alan Bennett from his own play and directed by Nicholas Hytner, it chronicles the Regency Crisis of 1788. King George III (Nigel Hawthorne), perhaps as a result of porphyria, lost his grip on reality. The Prince of Wales (Rupert Everett) petitioned Parliament to have his father removed from power, and to have himself declared regent.