For Movie Rob’s Genre Grandeur, the royalty theme- I had to participate because royal themed films are my all-time favorite! It was the perfect opportunity to watch, The Madness of King George (1994), for the first time ever. I was not aware of the film until my fellow royal enthusiast Aunt told me about it.
Starring Dame Helen Mirren as Queen Charlotte and the late Sir Nigel Hawthorne as “The Mad” King George III, this film tackles the topic of King George III’s mental illness.
For those who may not know, George III is the monarch America fought the Revolution against (he’s the, “taxation without representation”, King) and he is Queen Victoria’s grandfather (if you have seen season 3 of the ITV/ Masterpiece PBS TV show Victoria, this is Victoria’s mad grandfather they refer to).
Although the research at the time suggested the King had a mental state caused by porphyria, which causes blue urine, as mentioned in the movie; recent findings have led many to conclude His Majesty was suffering a psychiatric illness and that the medicine he was taking was causing the blue urine.
This movie is meant to be a drama, but it has its moments of humor- such as George playing cricket, giving a valet a piggy back ride in the corridor, and sliding down the railing with some of the servants.
The film does a fair job of balancing moments of the King’s illness versus the duties of being the monarch. The loss of America was a huge blow to George and the nation, but further issues persist such as ending the slave trade and dealing with their oldest son and heir’s Catholic mistress he wants to marry (which goes against The Marriage Act of 1772- forbidding Catholics on the throne).
But through it all, its Helen Mirren, who is the anchor and takes control when the King can’t. Even though The Prince of Wales is voted as regent, Queen Charlotte really is the one holding the family (and the monarchy) together.
This film was Miss Mirren’s first time playing a Queen as she has done so three times since: she played Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth I (2005), Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen (2006; for which she won the Oscar), and will soon be seen as Catherine the Great in the HBO mini-series.
Overall, I think my Aunt was right in telling me to watch this movie, as it was an interesting look on a King many Americans dismiss as, “unfair”.
The costumes were stunning and the sets were beautifully put together. There are some minor historical errors, mostly done for storytelling purposes, but the one that bugged me the most was the Louisiana Purchase being displayed on a globe. Other than that, even if some of the events that occurred during ‘episodes’ of the King’s madness didn’t really happen, they sure were entertaining!
It really is royal movie making at its finest!