The Madness of King George (1994) Poster

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"I have you in my eye, Sir"
Marty-G22 September 2002
A great performance from Nigel Hawthorne makes this movie very enjoyable. His portrayal of the 'Mad King' is in turns entertaining, poignant, sharp, and commanding. The rest of the cast back him up well. The conversion from stage play to screen works well here... the production design is excellent, and the direction is dynamic enough to ensure that the movie never drags. Best of all though is Alan Bennett's script which is full of wonderfully comic and intelligent soundbites. This is a sumptuous period drama which is never too intense, but at the same time never too pithy, and it makes for very pleasant viewing. The film never takes itself too seriously or gets bogged down - after all, what other 18th century costume drama can boast such lengthy discourse regarding the constitution of a British monarch's fetid stools?
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Singular outstanding acting job in a most complex role
SimonJack19 January 2011
I'm writing these comments about "The Madness of King George" because of the singular outstanding performance by Nigel Hawthorne. This is one of the most versatile roles in films in decades. It surely ranks among the very best of all time. As King George, Hawthorne covers a range of emotions, personalities and temperaments not often found in film roles. His character is a study in transition from the serious to the serene to the silly. It's a role of drama, of hilarity, of ego and stuffiness, of pathos, of sorrow and regret, and of gentleness and kindness. What an exceptional acting job.

Most often I watch a movie for the whole experience, taking in the plot, characters, acting, scenes and scenery, location, action, intrigue, comedy, tragedy, as a blend of the whole product. All of these weigh in and affect how much I enjoy the film. But half way through this film, I became aware that I was more engrossed in the lead character himself, and the great diversity and excellence of acting on display.

Others have commented that Hawthorne should have won the Best Actor Academy Award for his role in 1994. While I like Tom Hanks as an actor, I agree that his role in Forrest Gump wasn't anything exceptional. Certainly not on the order of "Mr. King" in "The Madness of King George." Indeed, Hawthorne must have had to work on his role -- even as a consummate actor, if not for the variations of mood and portrayals, at least for the vast amount of lines he had to speak in the film. By comparison, the Forrest Gump role had a very small amount of lines, and those were far less taxing to an actor. Hanks' was a role that seemed more fun and easygoing than a challenge or demand.

I'm not one to complain about Hollywood (except for the low quality and volume of attempts at humor in the past 20 years), but once in a while I think that many others who make the same observation are right on. Hollywood flops big time in its Oscar choice of an actor, actress or film once in a while. It seems to me that the California-based Academy at times doesn't look as objectively and honestly at films produced outside the U.S. Nothing else produced in 1994 even came close to the outstanding acting by Hawthorne in this first rate film.
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The King Who Talked To The Trees - And Claimed They Talked Back
theowinthrop21 May 2005
He was our last King, and the one we are raised to hate the memory of. And he was actually a hard working monarch, wrong headed at times, who had the longest reign (for any monarch - until Queen Victoria) in English history. He was George III (reigned 1760 - 1820 - the last nine years incapacitated by insanity and blindness). It was while he was ruling Great Britain that the American Revolution occurred, the French Revolution occurred, Napoleon rose and fell, and the industrial revolution hit Western Europe and the Americas. His is a key reign of modern history.

We are taught he was a tyrant. Actually he was a conscientious supporter of the British Constitution, but he believed the colonists were disobedient children who should have been punished for their own good. Once it was obvious that they had won on the battlefield, George offered to abdicate. He was talked out of it, and eventually faced up to accepting the papers of the new Minister from the United States, Mr. John Adams. But he never really fully accepted it, and in his last decade the two countries fought a second war (the War of 1812).

George III was a good, but strict family man. He and his wife Charlotte had seven sons and six daughters. But his sons were disappointments (the best one, Frederick, Duke of York, was a second-rate army commander who got involved in a scandal when his mistress, Mrs. Clarke, sold army commissions "in the name of the Duke of York" to undeserving men). The German Georges had a tradition of hatred between the Kings and their sons and heirs. George I was hated by George II because the former had imprisoned his wife (George II's mother) for life for infidelity (see SARABAND FOR DEAD LOVERS). George II was hated by his son, Frederick, Prince of Wales, and kicked the son out of the royal palace. Frederick died prematurely in 1758, so his son George III succeeded in 1760. His son, known as Florizel or "Prinny", had a long standing relationship with Mrs. Fitzherbert, a popular actress who happened to be Catholic. It was actually known by King George III that Prinny had an illegal marriage with Mrs. Fitzherbert. As head of the Church of England, George III resented this act. He also disliked Prinny's support of Whig politicians Charles James Fox and Richard Sheridan (and sometimes Edmund Burke). The King was a good Tory - he never realized that Prinny's politics were a way of annoying him, and Prinny was even more reactionary than the King was. Prinny's gambling and drinking debts also annoyed the King.

George was able to support the wise government (to 1789 anyway) of William Pitt the Younger. So supportive was he, that Pitt would reciprocate. For one day, in 1788, King George got out of his carriage in a forest, walked over to a tree, and had a long conversation with it. The tree, you see, was not a tree, but actually the now dead King Frederick the Great of Prussia. George III was showing signs of dementia. He was the first really certifiable monarch since Henry VI back in the 15th Century. George's son Prinny was ready to back a bill to remove his father and lock him away. Pitt saw Fox ready to replace him, and fought a long delaying action on the Regency bill. It worked, as Dr. Wills managed to bring the dementia under control.

It would only be in 1811, when Pitt was dead for five years (and Fox for four) that a Tory Government passed a Regency bill, but by then Prinny was openly anti-Whig. It was politically allowable for the Percival Ministry to chance Prinny as Regent by then. After George III died he would become George IV and reign until 1830.

This film has followed the tragic illness that incapacity (and eventually) destroyed George III, but only to the conclusion of it's first appearance in 1789. Nigel Hawthorne had performed the role to international acclaim on stage. He repeats it here, showing a thoughtful monarch (witness why he is upset about the errant colonies gaining independence - the valuable natural resources are lost, and he is aware of this). He is puritanical when normal, but with a son like Prinny who could blame him for being sorely disappointed. From the start you find yourself rooting for Hawthorne's monarch, who was not the evil tyrant that Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson painted.

Rupert Everett shows the callousness of the Prince of Wales, who is so selfish that at one point (when safely alone) Pitt and Fox wonder if their American cousins were right about abolishing the monarchy. Ian Holm, as Dr. Wills, is properly a mixture of early pioneer of psychology and tyrant. A wonderful film of how a national crisis was met and overcome peacefully. And timely too. Within weeks of the recovery of George III in 1789 the Bastille fell in Paris.
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Satisfyingly sharp and funny
Sophie-33 July 2000
THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III (called MADNESS OF KING GEORGE in the States because of reported studio concern, probably not apocryphal, that most Americans would wonder why they missed MADNESS I and II) begins with an act of lese majesty, a look behind the scenes as the family and ministers of George III prepare for the ceremony to open Parliament in 1788. We see the confusion of an equerry who has no idea of what his duties are, a royal attendant hurriedly spit on and cuff-polish a jewel on the kingly crown, the boredom of the king's eldest sons who would rather be just about anywhere else than waiting for their father in the chilly anteroom. ("Colder in here than a greyhound's nostril," mutters the Lord Chancellor.) It's a theme that will carry through the entire film. Kingship and royalty are shams, it seems - magic acts that require faith on the part of the audience. A peek behind the curtain of noblesse oblige and it's all likely to fall to pieces.

The story remains fairly true to the facts. Late in 1788, George III is taken by a mysterious illness (lately surmised to be porphyria) that strongly resembles the then-popular conception of madness. Chaos ensues, mainly in the desperate efforts of the Government (headed by William Pitt - Julian Wadham) to hush the whole matter up lest the forces of the Whig Opposition (led by Charles James Fox - Jim Carter) use the power vacuum to place the king's eldest son, the Prince of Wales, at the head of a regency sympathetic to their political cause. But Alan Bennett, who originally wrote the script for the theatre, is wise enough to treat the potentially tragic story as essentially comic even while raising the question of the basic insanity behind all pretensions to royalty. ("Some of my lunatics fancy themselves kings," notes the "mad doctor" who undertakes the case. "But he IS the king. Where shall his fancy take refuge?")

The power of the film radiates from neither history nor comedy but from performances, and Nigel Hawthorne, who sharpened his characterization of George III over months of playing it on stage, dominates a roster of top-notch actors. Whether brow-beating his older children with admonitions of "Do not be fat, Sir! Fight it! Fight it!" or, freed from his self-imposed strictures of kingship by illness, slipping the reins and pawing under the stays of Lady Pembroke (Amanda Donahoe), Hawthorne is both maddeningly and appealingly autocratic. Perhaps his Farmer George, England's prime example of husbandry both in his knowledge of horticulture and in his brood of 15 children, is more sympathetic than the historical personage, but in the end that matters little. It's a superbly nuanced performance.

And he's given able support by Helen Mirren as his faithful Queen Charlotte, who's devoted her life to supporting the man who rescued her from the obscurity of a small Germanic kingdom and married her despite her rather spectacular lack of good looks. Mirren's accent is variable; her etching of Charlotte's desperate groping at every straw in order to see her husband cured is not.

The rest of the cast is impeccable as well. Ian Holm is all steely religious conviction turned to medical practice as Dr. Willis, who undertakes to treat the king. Rupert Everett, despite the double handicap of an obviously false stomach and the silliest wig in the film, does a creditable turn as the Prince of Wales, though the script treats Prinny unfairly, mainly for the comic potential of doing so. Ministers of state and Parliamentarians Wadham, Carter and John Wood handle their lines with a panache and wit that would do credit to any authentic 18th-century gentleman. Some of the best lines go to Wood, who as usual gives his unsurpassable style and timing, as when he growls out in church, "I'm praying, goddammit!"

The costumes are both faithful and sumptuous, the cinematography is luminous and the sets, borrowed at low cost from various castles and colleges, are lovingly handled. Of special note is the music of Handel, adapted so cleverly by George Fenton that one would swear the old boy in the knee breeches wrote the score himself for every scene.
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david-260314 December 2005
Watched this again yesterday & once more was enraged at the injustice of Nigel Hawthorne missing out on the Oscar to Tom Hank's Forrest Gump that year.

An absolutely masterful performance from Hawthorne, matched by Ian Holm's doctor. The scene where the two of them meet for the first time is one of my favourites of all I have ever seen & always moves me.

The film never takes itself too seriously, and the cast is a veritable who's who of great British actors that Hollywood largely ignored. If you haven't seen this film, then I'd urge you to do so. Not many of you will fail to be impressed.......
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A great fun story full of colourful characters and performances
bob the moo27 February 2004
Already upset by the loss of America to independence, King George III of England's position is made more difficult by the onset of an illness that causes him to act wildly and babble uncontrollably. While the Prime Minister places him in the hands of Dr Willis to keep him in power, The Prince of Wales and the leader of the opposition both plan to replace the king with the prince by way of a parliamentary bill.

Based on the great little play that is historically based, this film went down very well with the awards season since it is very English and well acted. The plot is well written, I'm not sure if it is totally accurate but it is surely based on facts even if it has been coloured for artistic and entertainment reasons. The film embraces both the internal workings of the royal family and the politics of parliament really well; again, it may not be totally true but it is colourful, dissenting and enjoyably. The film is involving but yet still manages to be enjoyable and funny. It is a great story and it is lavishly brought to the big screen in this great production.

The sets and costumes are really good and establish the period and setting of the story very well, but it is the performances that really make it work. Hawthorne is wonderfully cast and delivers a great performance in the lead - both as the cruel monarch or the madman. He is totally believable all the way and never lets his performance become comical or silly even when it is amusing in delivery. Mirren and Donohoe both have less to do but make impacts in their scenes. Everett, Holm, Wadham and Graves support the film to great effect, their performances are colourful, impacting and very enjoyable.

Overall, historical films will quite often be viewed as lifeless, dull and overlong. Here this film goes against all those old clichés and is lively, colourful and enjoyable. The rich sets and costumes add value to some great performances in an engaging story that is very enjoyable.
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Absolutely Brilliant and Intoxicating! My #1 Of The 90's!
jor86dan25 July 2000
From the moment that this film started, it had me totally captivated. It chronicles King George III's gradual slip into what was thought to be madness, (but was later discovered to be another disease), and, perhaps one of the most impressive things, does so without bending and mangling history.

Granted, (now I'm American born and raised and live here so don't think I'm bashing them or anything), many parts of this film might be hard for American audiences to grasp, but if you have the brain cells to sit through it, it's absolutely wonderful.

The shining star, to me, is English-born Helen Mirren. Talk about a robbed Oscar! She portrays the originally-German Queen Charlotte incredibly well. The costuming in the film are what add to not only Mirren's, but the entire film's, historical accuracy. Granted, Mirren's German accent didn't stay exactly on key the entire time, but someone who had lived in England long enough, the accent could have begun to fade, no? Nonetheless, a flawless performance by Mirren.

The other reason this film is so incredible is its star, Nigel Hawthorne. Every scene he portrays the King in is perfect. He makes you feel like you're part of the movie; the interaction between Hawthorne in Mirren is great, as well.

Others who add to the film's quality are Everett (as the Prince of Wales), Donohoe (Lady Pembroke), and Holm (Dr. Willis). A truly great ensemble cast makes this my #1 movie of the 90s.

Overall: Just absolutely incredible! Go watch it! 5/5 Stars.
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Nigel Hawthorne's Crowning Achievement.
tfrizzell4 August 2002
The late Nigel Hawthorne received his only Oscar nomination for his outstanding role of King George III of England who developed a mental disorder that created chaos for the the nation's leader in the 1700s. His wife (Helen Mirren in an Oscar-nominated role) cannot cope and it turns out that no one can really help the king as the medical profession just lacked the modernism necessary to assist. Ian Holm is a genuine scene-stealer as the physician who uses some unorthodox methods to try and cure the titled character. Nigel Hawthorne, who sadly passed away recently, was one of the truly great actors of his time and this was his finest role. 4 stars out of 5.
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An Excellent movie
poj-man4 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
During the viewing of The Madness of King George I never really felt like I was watching a movie. I was absorbed into the characters and the representation of the factual events. If that does not describe an excellent movie then I do not know what does.

The story represents power and power struggle and the concept of subservience. Certain situations and constructs of underlings are built to a fine conclusion to resolve the characters. Befitting power and Royals the end conclusions is not "Disney-esque" for all characters.

The sets and characters are fabulously done. There is no sense of egotistical pompousness on the part of the cast and crew (no over the top Johnny Depp-ness here). There is a purpose to the story and the content is more important than the cast and crew.

Well worth watching.
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Outstanding, impeccable, exquisitely done combination of tragedy and comedy...
Doylenf28 November 2010
THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE shows us how mad the ruler of England became at some point in time due to an illness doctors knew little about.

How his illness is treated is at the core of this story, when King George III is assigned a doctor (IAN HOLM) to use whatever means are necessary to restore sanity. All the while, court intrigue has everyone in parliament conspiring about appointing a Regent to take over the King's duties. His son, the Prince of Wales (RUPERT EVERETT) is more then willing to replace his father on the throne.

Much of it is played for fine comic effect with many nuances and comic timing in spite of the seriousness of the central character's illness. NIGEL HAWTHORNE recreates his London stage role, playing the part of the mad king to perfection. HELEN MIRREN is highly satisfactory as his wife who wants nothing more than to see him make a complete recovery and RUPERT GRAVES is fine in one of the more low-key roles as one of the King's supportive aids.

As usual in all of these British historical pieces, the settings, costumes, photography, art direction--all are exquisite. The photography is a marvel at suggesting that only candlelight illuminates many of the scenes so that it's like watching a series of fine paintings come to life. Effective use of Handel's music provides solid support throughout.
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Will be Hawthorne's epitaph
Britlaw16 January 2002
I originally saw this on stage at the Royal National Theatre in 1992 and then I saw it in the cinema when released as a film. I read a biography of the King recently and the death of Sir Nigel Hawthorne over Christmas prompted me to have another look at this.

I'm still bowled over and this will always be one of my top ten films, Hawthorne was never better and this will stand as the best of his legacy of fine performances.

His portrayal of the King is painfully accurate and largely historically correct in a superb script by Alan Bennett. The King was well educated but not particularly bright and Hawthorne brings his preremptory manner out so well. The scene where the King cross examines the Prime Minister about a minor appointment tells you more than you need to know of the sane man in two minutes.

The descent into madness is subtle at first, and might just be eccentricty but then gets worse and the Government are appalled at how they might lose control to the Opposition if there is a regency declared. The machinations become immense as so much hangs on the King's sanity.

Meanwhile treatment goes ahead and in a superb scene Hytner parodies the Coronation service when the King is strapped to a chair and gagged to Handel's 'Zadok the Priest'. In the Coronation service this music has since 1727 been used when the monarch is ceremonially led to St Edward's chair and is enthroned at the precise moment the choir comes in on the music.

However, the King recovers, though he had separate bouts of subsequent illness before totally losing it (though by then to Alzheimers) in 1811, though he was to live until 1820.

Hawthorne was robbed of an Oscar here in my view. Scriptwriter Bennett, one of our best living playwrights, has a small part as an MP.
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Fascinating...A LITTLE GEM
Mitch-3822 January 2001
Warning: Spoilers
*MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS* This picture, to summarize, is engaging, sad, humorous and well told. King George III (portrayed exceptionally by Nigel Hawthorne) is a haunted man in many regards. He is, of course, the British Monarch who lost the American Colonies. He also has a very large family, a loving wife and must overcome the delicate hurdles of politics.

As we go further, we learn that the King is starting to act bizarre, and this opens the door for internal intrigue, political back-biting and sordid plans. The abridgement of social graces can be found on all sides, some which are truly hilarious.

The Prince of Wales,(salaciously depicted by Rupert Everett) stands to gain the throne, if the effective coup works out. All have their reasons for choosing sides. The wild card in the feud, is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He, like all political folk, wants to stack his cookies on the winning side.

The performances are top-notch and the story is interestingly and intelligently presented. Highly recommended.
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"It's 4 O'clock! Six hours of sleep is enough for a man, seven for a woman, and eight for a fool."
TxMike17 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
According to the history books, George III of England went hopelessly mad by 1811. This film, which appears largely historical to this non-Brit, begins in 1788, and King George (Nigel Hawthorne) is still indignant over losing the "colonies", now known as The United States. He has already begun to display unbalanced behavior, and his oldest son, Prince of Wales (Rupert Everett)is plotting, along with his cronies, to have a bill passed which makes him Regent, basically acting as king without being king.

The tagline at the end of the film asserts that George III was suffering from a particular illness, as evidenced by references to blue urine in the script. In the film, a doctor who has established some reknown as a healer of "mad" people is retained, and forceably takes the King to his compound. There, every time the King acts unseemly, he is bound to a chair and gagged. Eventually, right before the bill is to be passed, he returns to his subjects, and exhibits normal behavior. He begins adding "what-what" to the end of his sentences, as he had done before he became incapacitated. I wonder if that is where it came from for the movie, "Chicken Run?"

A very good movie, done in good style with appropriate humor. Nigel Hawthorne and Rupert Everett are both great in their roles.
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A darkly film, not quite your Three Musketeers "history" piece
grendel-285 June 2000
I positively loved Hawthorne in this movie, thanks to him King's madness is quite palpable, emotional rather then clinical. Ian Holm charms as always - this time as a rather driven/bordering on sadism "doctor", whose elaborate system of punishment was impressed on King George by sadistic and yet so well meaning party of the King. Nice thing about this movie is the absense of the clear-cut villains - even the Prince ain't that bad. It's rather a story of one's power slipping away from everywhere but the very surface, a fable of the King in no more than the name, driven to the edge of misery by intrusive politicians and abusive doctors. As such it has it's depressing moments - don't expect a Hollywoodish romp of the Iron Mask or Musketeers.
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George III: a decent man who suffered from bad timing
jwalzer526 May 2002
A superlative drama. By now, most sophisticated movie-goers are aware that King George III's sickness might very well have been a result of porphyria, a hereditary disease that some doctors have traced back to Mary, Queen of Scots (i.e., George III's great-great-great-great-great grandmother). Whatever the cause, Nigel Hawthorne gives the performance of a lifetime as the tortured king. The conflict between George III and his heir, the Prince of Wales (the eventual King George IV), is brutally and unapologetically portrayed: the director does not spare us in his vivid reenactment of the combative and sour relationship that actually existed between the two men. As an American, one might suspect I'd be unsympathetic to the British monarch who presided over England's attempt to brutalize its colonies -- but George III's almost-wistful resentment of his errant "colonists" generates some sympathy for the man himself - a sympathy which is unexpectedly intensified by Hawthorne's sudden descent into incoherence, his dim, yet aching realization of what he has become, and his eventual recovery. George III was haunted by demons not of his own making; and no human being deserves the fate to which his disease, if such it was, eventually condemned him. "The Madness of King George" enlightened, entertained,and provoked: what more could one ask of a film?
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a funny, terribly sad, tender, intensely harsh movie
rob1277028 November 2002
When i saw the dvd cover i glossed over it, not thinking it would be "my kind of film" i was very wrong about that, Nigel Hawthorne depicts Brilliantly, a mentally crumbling king george III, It had me gripped from beggining to end, not many films do this, whith other cast including, Helen Mirren, Amanda Donahoe, Rupert Everett, and Ian Holm, you cannot miss, if you see this, Buy It !
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Stunning film, stellar performances
Rumples17 May 1999
This is a standout film. If you have not seen it and you consider yourself a lover of movies - go and see it immediately. It is a beautiful depiction of an interesting historical period and the dilemmas faced by countries lead by accidents of genetics. The script is magnificent and the filming gorgeous, but it is the incredible performances of the leading cast that set this film apart. Historical dramatic film at its best. It reminds me of Her Majesty Mrs Brown on a fairly superficial level. TMOKG is a better film although Mrs Brown was also excellent. My vote 8/10 and well deserved.
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Exceptionally well-made and exceptionally incomplete
MartinHafer13 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is an exquisitely made film about a sad figure in British history, King George III, who spent much of his reign locked away in a private mental institution. Now, researchers and historians believe that the "madness" was caused by the effects of Porphyria--a rare condition in which a person becomes allergic to sunlight.

This film concerns only a very small portion of his long reign. You see George at first as a capable and decent man, but slowly he becomes tough to manage and irrational. What is very interesting but tough to watch are the ways that the barbaric doctors try to treat his malady. Ultimately, by the end of the film, George seems to have recovered and the audience is left to assume everything was peachy from that point on, but this was NOT the case. His mental condition continued to wax and wane for decades and ultimately, his son George IV became ruler long before he was actually crowned because his father was too incapacitated to rule or even be trusted to care for himself.

A very sad true story that was too briefly explored in this film. However, I must also admit that the acting was very good, the sets lovely and the film fascinating throughout...but incomplete.

An interesting post-script. While George was reasonably rational when the Revolutionary War began, his mental impairment must have affected his reasoning even then. You wonder if maybe the whole situation might have been dealt with much differently if the king had truly been in his right mind. For example, when the Prime Minister, Pitt the Younger wanted to show leniency towards the colonies and reconcile, he was not supported in this by the King. In fact, the King said some rather imprudent things about needing to teach Colonists a lesson. Who knows...and an interesting question for historians.
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Top notch acting, check, great score, check, sumptuous period detail, check- ye gods, this is a great film!
TheLittleSongbird12 April 2010
I cannot begin to describe how much I loved the Madness of King George. I am very fond of period dramas, and this was a truly great film, funny, moving and pretty much immaculate. George III is married to Charlotte, yet he dallys with Lady Pembroke and fathers 15 children and an empire. The thing is, Farmer George(the king's nickname) is starting to show signs of madness, the rest.. well you'll have to see it for yourself. Nicolas Hytner directs impeccably, and while the screenplay has some sardonic jokes and colloquialisms it ensures that the film is essentially a serious study of 18th century politics and the monarchy. The period detail and art direction is nothing short of sumptuous, exquisite costumes, scenery and settings, and the use of music by Handel was appropriately fitting. Then there is the acting, it was top notch. Nigel Hawthorne's performance here is so exceptional, he pretty much embodies the film, in a performance that is funny, moving and charming. Helen Mirren and Amanda Donohoe both do wonderfully as his wife and mistress, they both are great actresses and both look lovely here. Rupert Everett is suitably detestable as the foppish Prince of Wales, Ian Holm is brilliant as Willis in some of the more harrowing scenes of the film and Rupert Graves is entertaining as Greville. Overall, this is a truly great film, so worth seeing for Hawthorne's performance alone! 10/10 Bethany Cox
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Emotional study of one man's joy - and madness
Leofwine_draca14 January 2012
A moving exploration of mental illness masquerading as a costume drama. THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE tells the story of George III, Britain's 'Mad King', whose life was beset by repeated ill health until his son, the Prince Regent, finally ruled in his stead.

This is far from your usual costume drama (something like THE YOUNG VICTORIA), because it's written by and based on a stage play by Alan Bennett, who immediately brings events closer to home. He focuses on characters, personalities and feelings throughout, and isn't so interested in the pomp and splendour that other directors might have favoured. Instead, this is a glorious rebellion put on film, showing with childlike glee the way one man fought back against the social constraints of his era.

Of course, that's not to say that this isn't an authentic-looking film; the costumes are splendid, the locations even more so, and the cast of British thesps are all very good. Nigel Hawthorne, in particular, gives one of his best-remembered performances (he'd played the same role on stage many times, which is why he's so confident in the part).
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Not your run-of-the-mill historical movie...
hippy_hazel12 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I watched "The Madness of King George" yesterday; I really enjoyed the movie. It had some amazing acting in it, and the 'madness' never once strayed into being comedic (which it could have easily done I imagine). Yes, it's a bit of a frock-coat and wigs fest… but if you allow yourself to look past all of that there is a sensitive, and deeply moving story of human nature, and the nature of human relationships.

Of course, Freud's Oedipus complex is hard to completely brush aside considering the actions of the Prince. Though it cannot be a term used without hesitation… indeed, the son attempts to usurp the Father, but not with the Mother. Perhaps if you consider the old idea that a monarch is married to the country – then the allusion works quite well.

Even if you are not sure on the rights / wrongs of continuing to have a monarchy in the UK I don't feel that the republican agenda is pushed too strongly. For me I guess the fact the plot is concerned with royalty is a by-line for the main theme of relationships.

In madness the King portrays traits of teenage antics, and requires (in the end) a disciplinarian approach to combat his outbursts, and help him grow into the man. It's also an amazing love story… with a wife torn between medical advice, and wanting to be beside "Mr. King's" side (which she knows is possibly the best medicine). If you get a chance this summer – do rent it out!
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Love this film
Mathijs31 August 2000
no fun to be a king; there's no room in the protocol for humanity, but this man is! Wonderful film. In the endless stream of costume-films this is one of the best. This also proves that the English are the very best at this.
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Visually a great movie with great performances.
Boba_Fett113810 April 2005
"The Madness of King George" is far from an excellent movie and a must see but nevertheless it's still both fun and wonderful to watch. The costumes and sets are great and Sir Nigel Hawthorne really carries the movie with his wonderful performance.

The movie is more of a comedy than a drama really. The movie is filled with some humorous moments, dialogs and characters.

Only problem I had with the movie was that it focused on way too many and unneeded characters. Also because of this, Sir Ian Holm's character gets seriously underused. A bit of an ungrateful role for Sir Ian Holm. They could have used his acting skills in a better manner.

Basically the movie is just a little bit over 1 hour and 40 minutes of fun entertainment with some nice humor and an impressive Sir Nigel Hawthorne.

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More a drama than a comedy
philip_vanderveken25 May 2005
If I'm honest with you, than I must say that I had some serious doubts about watching this movie. I knew it was a comedy and normally I'm always in for a good laugh, even (or perhaps especially) when it means laughing with some royals. But the main problem that I had with the movie was the fact that it was situated in the eighteenth century, a time period for which I don't really care. Still I gave the movie a try, hoping the best.

Apparently the story was not only based on a play, but also on some actual events. That of course makes it all more interesting, because a king who goes mad isn't something you'll experience every day. And this movie does more than showing why and how King George III started to loose his senses (he had just lost America to independence), it also shows how the man became the victim of political and royal back stabbing, because not only the members of parliament, but even one of his own sons wanted to see him removed from power. It also shows how marginal and primitive the medical practices in the eighteenth century actually were and how it almost was a miracle that the King conquered his disease...

What surprised me after seeing this movie, was that it was more a drama than a comedy. Sure it offered some good laughs, but in the end this was a very serious movie with a serious subject. It was more 'normal' than I expected from it at first. That doesn't mean that I didn't like it of course, it was just something different. The decors and the costumes however were exactly the way I imagined them to be. They are really good and make sure that you know what time period this story is set in. But what I liked most were the performances by the different actors. Especially Nigel Hawthorne is not to be missed as King George III. He's interesting to watch, as well as when he is the 'normal' king, as when he's playing the madman. Perhaps I enjoyed him even more when he acted like a crazy man, even though it's hard to tell when he was at his best. Other people like Helen Mirren and Ian Holm did a very nice job as well and make this movie worth watching.

So, even though I had my doubts about this movie, I must admit that it wasn't bad at all. It wasn't as much a comedy as I had hoped for, but even the more dramatic parts were nice to watch. I give this movie a 7/10.
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Real and convincing
Gordon-118 October 2007
This film is about the chaos caused by King George's medical condition, which leads to transient but unpredictable psychosis.

I must commend Nigel Hawthorne's acting. His portrayal of being manic and psychotic is very real and convincing. He makes his character as King George believable and brings him to life. The part where he delusions about London flooding is funny and sad at the same time. The plot build up is also good, with hints of porphyria being put in little by little. Doctors at that time did not know what it was, but fortunately we do now! It's a pity that the copy I viewed showed signs of aging. Colours seem to be fading and less sharp. I think I would have enjoyed the film more if it was not so.
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