The Madness of King George

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  • Terrific film - why isn't it on DVD!
    I'm taken aback at those who comment on this being a comedy... while there are a few light moments, this is a very tragic film... seeing how "doctors" attempt to help the king through an illness they don't understand. Ignoring obvious symptoms they don't recognize, they give him barbaric treatments that are harsh and cruel. His own wife, the queen, adores her husband and is forced to watch helplessly as he falls apart from this unknown madness that today would probably be cured with medication.

    Highly entertaining and some incredible acting... great wardrobes and filming locations.... just an overall masterpiece of historical, yet dramatic film....more info

  • "Chop, Chop the King, the King!!!"
    All I can say is WOW! I was amazed when I rented this film and put this into my dvd player. The costumes, make up, and the acting are all SUPERB! I could tell that a lot of thought went into making this quality movie.

    Indeed I am a patriotic American and I do know that George III is to blame for our American Revolution, but I felt sympathetic towards the King in this film.

    Underneath the savage, rigid, and tempermental "insanity" of the King, George III did indeed have a heart and a conscious that can be seen in bits and pieces in many scenes. I actually found the Prince of Wales (Prince Regent) to be a ruthless snake that was King in "name only."

    There are some great scenes and shots of Windsor Castle, the Houses of Parliament, and St Paul's Cathedral. Compared to the real and dysfunctional House of Windsor, George III and the House of Hanover will give you a real Royal treat in this film!...more info

  • A suprisingly endearing take on George...
    Nigel Hawthorne does an amazing job of portraying the "mad" King George III. You will find his antics hilarious and yet pity him in the same instance, for how inaccurately his illness was treated for the times.

    I found the film to be suprisingly factual - even with the more endearing take on George's character/perspective. Ian Holm and Rupert Everret are both excellent, yet easy to detest in their roles as ruthless doctor and Prince, respectively. But my favorites in the film were Helen Mirren and Nigel Hawthorne's as the King and Queen - the fact that he never took a lover (historically) shines through in their roles, and makes them more charming British monarchs to watch for a change!

    Thoroughly enjoyed this film.... a sad story underneath, but a delight in its delivery....more info
  • WOW
    All I can say is that you must get this movie. This is one of the finest films I have ever seen. Please buy this,if not for yourself than for me.

    I loved Nigel Hawthorne and Rupert Everett in this film. I especially liked when Hawthorne say ,"WHAT, WHAT." After almost every word....more info

  • Funny, educational, entertaining.
    "The Madness of King George" is a fairly accurate portrayal of George III's battle with insanity and his son. George is sent to an institute where a Dr. Willis hopes to cure him by using discipline. As the mental state of King George seems unfit for a king, his son,the Prince of Wales, tries to pass a bill that will let him replace his father as king. But George prevails in the end and remains King of England. I thought this was an excellent movie. I have always found English history extremely fascinating, and I have always been interested in the rulers of England. I thought this movie did an excellent job of portraying the time and characters. Though there were a few anachronisms (an incorrect map of America; the year 1892 carved on a door even though the movie took place in the 1780's) I thought it was very accurate and very well-researched. And the costumes were very attractive and made the movie fun to watch. I also thought the actors did a wonderful job. Nigel Hawthorne did an excellent job, and he truly deserved his Oscar nomination. Hawthorne provided most of the comic relief in this movie, and he made King George quite an endearing character. Ian Holm did equally as well as Nigel Hawthorne. He has always been a master of facial expressions, and this added to his amusing portrayal of Dr. Willis. And though I'm not much of a fan of Rupert Everett, in fact, I quite dislike him, I must admit he was very good as the Prince of Wales, and he had the right attitude and personality in the movie to pull that role off. I did not care of Helen Mirren, and I feel that an Oscar nomination was wasted on her. Her "German" accent was not consistent, and her acting was good, but not great. I think this was a great movie. It was funny, educational, and most of all - entertaining. This is a movie that I could watch again, and still enjoy just as much as the first time....more info
  • Funny, poignant, exhilarating: A test on your emotions
    The Madness of King George is simply the best movie I have seen in many years. The first thing that attracted me to the movie was the costumes: they are impeccable. The set, costume, and makeup: there is no cause for complaints there and many, many reasons for praise. But the most remarkable thing about this movie is how well each actor fits his or her part, and the pace of this drama. First of all, the acting is wonderful, but this movie was also wonderfully casted. Nigel Hawthorne blew me away with his hilarious, deep and believable portrayal of George III. His madness was heartbreaking and painful for the audience and his sane George the Third was funny in such a way that you couldn't help but root for him. Rupert Everett was simply so detestable that by the end of the movie I couldn't watch any movie with him in it without feeling a little hostile. Helen Mirren is, as always, pitch perfect in her portrayal and absolutely beautiful as Queen Charlotte. The environment created by this wonderful ensemble cast makes the movie exciting and the kind of film that elicits a real emotional response. Who knew that you could feel suspense, pain, happiness and exhilaration from a costume drama about a dead king? As soon as you put this movie in your DVD player you will be hooked, entranced and entertained. If you are even a mild fan of historical dramas, give this movie a chance. It'll only take a few moments for you to love it....more info
    I count this movie as one of the best I have ever seen.

    The director, screenwriter, costume designer, art director, and actors take what is a less-than-fascinating incident in the life of a (less-than-fascinating?) historical character and, with artistic and intellectual brilliance, mulch this germ of a plot until it blooms into a luxuriant, vibrant, spectacularly colorful, intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking film. It is dramatized history and extravagant cinema at their height!

    In real life, George III of England suffered from what scientists think was probably porphyria, a disorder whereby liver enzymes fail to be excreted from the body and produce, among other symptoms, insanity. The disease has remissions and exacerbations that are unpredictable, and we are watching the first time the disease presents itself in George III, in the 18th century, after England lost the Revolutinary War to the American colonists.

    It is not the king and his disease that make for great cinema. It is the relationships among king, courtiers, the House of Peers, the House of Commons, the Prince of Wales, Queen Charlotte, the two court doctors, a country doctor who originates a sensible and relatively compassionate treatment for the mentally ill, and the people of England that make this a dynamic tour-de-force. Each character is so incredibly alive and vivid.

    For example, one of the king's advisors, a Mr. Penn, a nobleman in the House of Peers, is so exquisitely portrayed that he could be a movie in himself: he is a dour, almost sour young man whose lack of humor makes him the butt of jokes by his more fun-loving colleagues. He dresses like a Puritan. He sides with a Mr. Fox in the House of Commons and the Prince of Wales, who is going out of his mind in the restless anticipation of replacing his father on the throne, that the king should be removed if, indeed, he is insane, and that this should be done by an act of Parliament. However, as the king's illness and treatment progress, Mr. Penn proves to be a thoughtful, moral man of honor and integrity. He feels it is his duty to support the king as his subject as he struggles to break free of his madness. When King George's recovery is imminent, although he was considering backing parliamentary revocation of the throne when the king was mad, he announces the recovery publicly, in Parliament, thus making insurrection impossible.

    In addition to the actor's splendid characterization, this character was enhanced (as were all the characters) by absolutely spectacular costuming and make-up. Mr. Penn, in face and figure, happened to resemble an eighteenth-century man in a Gainsborough painting, and thus his slightly coarse, wavy, light-brown hair was teased into a Gainsborough 'fro, and he looked exactly as though he stepped out of an 18th century painting. Perhaps the most delightful results of the hairdressers', makeup artists' and costumers' art was the Prince of Wales and his younger brother. They were both portrayed as insufferable fops, and the aforementioned artists worked them up to a la-de-da beyond the last frontiers of outrageousness and camp that truly has to be seen to be appreciated.

    The net result of all of the above is that history jumps right into your lap. Never has an epoch become more alive than in this film, from the concrete details of custume and mannerism to the very philosophical ideas and values that distinguished (and continue to distinguish) England (and her American cousin).

    If you love history and love cinema, do not fail to see this film....more info
  • A Rather Poor Attempt To Exonerate The Royalty
    The one star of my review goes solely to Nigel H., or Sir Humpy, as he's better known. He's great, of course and as always. But unfortunately that's it! There are no other redeeming qualities whatsoever in this inaccurate and rather uncomfortable close-up of the 18th century medical torture.

    The doctors appear more like Nazi camp torturers possessing both limitless and evil authority over their poor victims as well as the most blood curdling taste for random and most unusual cruelties. The rest of the royals come across as powerless rabble subject to every perverted whim of the political schemers that seem to conspire, to beyond excess, in almost every scene, carrying out puzzling, self-conflicting, and of course totally unexplained agendas. This bit reeks of that undenyably impeccable Hollywood touch adding to the already dismal pointless ambiance of the film that necessary touch of extra nightmare for the coke-guzzling, action-thriller-eating, and mind-lazy yankee viewers.

    The parliament is shown as a kniving mob of back stabbing, closet monarchy haters, and country traitors. Perhaps, most astonishingly of all, the queen is portrayed as a loving, gentle, so woman-like hapless creature somehow caught up, against her will, in the lavish opulence of the throne. In fact, the film goes as far as having the viewer believe that what little power the queen had seemed to wield was completely razed by the somehow emerging, apparently nationwide, plot to simply give the king a good torture. She is shown pathetically helpless and forced to abandon the crown for the psychotic torments.

    The less said about the depiction of the supporting cast, the better, as, for instance, all the ladies of the court are shown as nothing else but immoral call girls.

    The movie, instead of showing the dynamics of the emergent chasm between the politically weakening crown and the momentum-gaining parliament, indulges itself in hours of truly hard-to-watch and emotionally exploiting scenes of agonising cruelty.

    Most shockingly, the film ends with a statement of retrospective diagnosis which dares to blame some very rare medical condition for the hours of horrid entertainment instead of the director, the screenwriter, and the producers of this flop.

    It is hard to figure out the point of it. Why watch evil doctors torture a man for 90 minutes?

    The diagnosis statement perhaps sheds some light on this, as it makes a thought cross one's mind. It seems very unlikely since blue urine discharge can only point to poisoning, not any known disease.

    But could George III have been poisoned? Yes, you see, a very touchy subject indeed. It's the same as asking today whether Lady Di could have been murdered in the motorway tunnel in France or whether Lady Di could herself have tried poisoning her husband's squeeze, as some royal sources suggest today? The monarchy will have none of it! It must exonerate itself by any means possible! Maybe, that's the point of it all. Even if it means boring and pointless movies for the subjects.

    You're well advised to save your time and money. If you want to see Nigel H., which you should, watch the Yes (Prime) Minister series.
    R. Friedman...more info

  • Well done movie about an intriguing historical theme...
    This movie is a superb historical attempt to portray the Madness of King George III of England. It takes place shortly after the American Revolution, and combines a couple incidents in King George's life into a condensed time period. Although not 100% historically accurate, it is superbly done. Great acting, cast and sets. Nice movie for those interested in the time period or historically themed movies....more info
  • A Splendid Period Film
    I found Madness to be one of the very best period pieces I have seen. The insights into the working of British government at a time when the Monarchy was in its last stages of real day to day power were very enlightening. Similarly, the parliamentary maneuvering between Pitt the younger's Tories and Charles James Fox's radical Whigs, and their tie ins to competing factions of the Royal Family was simply fascinating. Americans are generally unaware of what a critical point in history this was, as the Foxites were very much in sympathy with the Jacobin regicides in France and the absence of England's opposition to the nouvelle regime there would likely have led to a French republican hegemony in Europe with untold consequences.

    I disagree with some of the reviewers here who view George III as a great and good king, but he was certainly not the monster viewed in America either. To the contrary both the film and history demonstrate that he was a rather stodgy, unimaginitive man of mediocre talents but great force of will. When his physiological/psychological disease takes grip, the consequences are shocking, if not quite tragic. The real dramatic impact of the film comes with the effect of changed circumstances on the supporting characters, who take stances on one assumption and wind up surprised and vulnerable when those assumptions are no longer true. The more altruistic that a nonroyal character's behaviour has been, the harder the fall or disillusionment that results. Conversely, the more cynical a character's approach is, the better he or she comes out in the end. This one is really not to be missed, not only for all of these reasons, but also for the wonderful soundtrack of Handel pieces....more info

  • superb
    as is said to king george, he has his ups and downs; so does this film. the film is a quiet, beautiful work of visual and verbal eloquence. while the actors all give marvelous performances, the film belongs to nigel hawthorne, mr. king.

    king george, a kind and generous ruler, sadly descends into some sort of madness (alzheimer's?) while his son, the prince of wales, rather than being a sympathetic son, plots to become regent of england. machiavelli would have no doubt been proud to know this prince, but all the prince really ever wanted was to have something to do other than smile and wave at his subjects.

    the king's temperament runs from nasty and vindictive to playfully and childishly charming. i wept when the king was torn from his castle and queen and forced into a terrible torture, which was in those days called medicine. a lifetime of worries and duty and the loss of the colonies push this kind soul towards madness.

    the short scene in which the king and his contemporaries play a scene from 'king lear' is one of the most touching moments i have seen in any film. the parallels are obvious, even to the tormented mind of king george. it's wonderful.

    ian holm is wonderful as the doctor who steps in with great understanding of the king's illness. while his methods seem barbaric by today's standards, they do help the king to regain his senses and triumph.

    smile and wave? i cheered. this film gets my highest recommendation....more info

  • A Little Gem
    King Lear comes back to life! This time as the demented (or is it all too lucid!) King George III, who shakes up his familly, court and even Parliament with his seemingly absurd antics. This glorious little period piece gives us an accurate slice of 18th century English life, as well as providing laugh after laugh. More than that, this film artfully and subtly examines the serious subject of madness and what it means to see things a little differently.

    Nigel Hawthorne's performance as George is flawless. He brings to life a very complex and misunderstood historical figure. Whether we follow the Mad George rushing to the rooftops trying to save his family from some paranoic threat, gallop after him darting across the dales, nightgown and all, or snigger while he 'instructs' the Court orchestra on how to 'properly' play their instruments, we feel the profound human spirit of a man trapped within confines not of his own making. Like Lear's, his mad roar is that of a free spirit shackled in chains. And for George, these are the shackles of propriety and royal duty. While the end of the film makes mention of the obscure aliment which supposedly tormented poor George, the film leaves open other possibilities as well. The film poignantly shows how madness and idiocy are far from being synonomous. In rare moments of clarity, George not only seems to know his condition better than his quack doctors do.....'I'm here, but not all there,' but he also shows some keen perception into the limits of the human mind. As he told his beloved 'Mrs Queen,'(the ever professional Mrs. Mirren), 'I just want to talk it all out,' maybe his true problem lies in not being able to accept the limits thrust upon him by his political responsibilities.

    The film poses some interesting questions not only about the nature of madness and self-control, but about being a leader or public figure. The only doctor who manages to reach the far-gone King(brilliantly acted by Ian Holm), shrewdly states that he who is unable to govern himself is not fit to govern a country. Self-discipline appears to be the lacking ingredient.

    In addition to the entertaining laughs and hidden questions, the film is supremely well-crafted. All the performances are well above board. The best supporting roles are those of Rupert Graves, as the proper and reserved Mr. Pitt, who valiantly defends his King when all others have abandonned him and the sultry Amanda Donohoe as the loyal Lady Pembroke, capable of making any sacrifice for her Majesty. Rupert Everett's Prince of Wales is the weakest link. Somehow, he seemed out of place in the film. Better stay by Madonna's side.

    All in all, a great piece of entertainment. Stay in tonight and rent it....or better yet, buy it. A must for any serious collection. Even hardened Anglophobes and anti-royalists (like myself) will find it impossible to hold back the laughs and tears. Well, maybe we colonists shouldn't have sent old Georgie packing after all!...more info

  • The king is tortured by bumbling doctorsy and its fun!!!
    I saw this movie on a business trip in London when it first showed in the theaters and again recently on DVD. I enjoyed it very much both times and I recommend this DVD.

    While I read a great deal of history, I don't read enough on this period to comment on the accuracy, but this book certainly FELT accurate. The costumes, scenery, bumbling doctors, scheming politicians and scrambling servants set a historical mood that's half the fun in this very enjoyable movie.

    Of course, the screenplay is written for a modern audience, so we would, naturally, see irony in the bumbling doctors. Particularly ironic is one doctor's protestation that a doctor's work is of careful observation and should not be swayed by the color of the King's urine.

    The scenes of Prime Minister Pitt in Parliament defending his king certainly reminded me of watching Tony Blair in action on CSPAN. I was also left with the impression that it's a lot more fun to be in British Parliament than in U.S. Congress.

    One may expect to dislike the King, but in the end, one can't help but feel great sympathy for the man and not just because of the maltreatment he receives from his doctor's.

    Overall, the movie was as enjoyable as I remembered it. Unfortunately, other than the trailer, the DVD did not give us any extras to enjoy....more info

  • Passing over this masterpiece would be sheer madness...
    I don't know if I feel like continuing my rant on how mediocre `Forrest Gump' was, but every time I watch any film from 1994 I am left bewildered at the fact that it lost to that piece of Hollywood fluff. Even a film like `The Madness of King George', that had no chance at winning top honors because it wasn't nominated, deserved a win over that horribly mediocre film; and knowing that Tom Hanks won the Best Actor trophy over, not only Morgan Freeman and John Travolta but also this tremendously moving and brilliantly controlled performance given by Nigel Hawthorne, is utterly repulsive. I have not seen Paul Newman's turn in `Nobody's Fool' (why is this not on DVD?) but from what I've heard I can say without hesitation that Hanks was in all likelihood the WORST of the nominated five.

    Okay, no more about `Forrest Gump'; I promise.

    So, Alan Bennett adapted his own stage play for this big screen adaptation, and while I cannot say for certain that it is better or worse (I have not seen the stage production) I can say that this film is stupendous from start to finish and serves as one of the best films of the year that was 1994. It boasts an intelligently woven plot (based on real events) with lavish set pieces, beautifully decorated costumes and most importantly, a slew of commanding and utterly unforgettable performances.

    The film focuses on the darkest part of King George III's reign, where he fell into a form of dementia and was stripped of power by his greedy and resentful son George, the Prince of Wales. Exploiting the corruption within the castle walls, as well as the ignorance with regard to the King's mental condition, the film never skirts around the obvious but remains honest throughout. It balances perfectly the dramatic tensions of the situation and the sly humor that makes Hawthorne's performance so legendary.

    Honestly; Hawthorne is a revelatory genius here.

    I don't understand the complaint that the film is not emotionally connecting. I think the exact words were "viewers are forced to fill in emotional gaps for themselves, and the whole enterprise has a pseudo-cinematic, self-congratulatory air". I'm sure this guy thought that `Forrest Gump' was a remarkable example of emotional honesty. UGH, I promised I wouldn't bring up that film again, but really, that reviewer's explanation of this film mirrors my sentiments of the eventual Oscar winner. `The Madness of King George' never manipulates the audience but insists on creating an honest and touching portrait of the loss of sanity, and the damaged caused by misunderstanding that sanity. The film tackles a variety of subjects, from mental health to loyalty, greed, respect, love and power; and it handles all of them gallantly.

    With fine supporting performances by Helen Mirren (a sublime example of grace and distilled admiration and affection), Ian Holm (a marvel at subtle nuances), Amanda Donohoe (such chilling passages of repressed loyalties) and Rupert Everett (dastardly deception at its finest) as well as sharp dialog that captures wit as well as emotional relevance, `The Madness of King George' is a complete package. ...more info
  • The Madness of King George
    This is a wonderful source for a term paper and a wonderful movie for history buffs too. NOT one to see with anyone under thirteen (this is aptly rated) because of certain scenes with questionable topics discussed and demonstrated....more info
  • More than excellent !
    A true and humorous story covering the psycological instability of the British King George in the late 18th century.A virtually remarkable movie and I consider myself lucky to watch it 'cos I was not aware of this and heard it by chance....more info
    This is a marvelous period piece that deals with an intriguing subject: the apparently intermittent madness of King George III. Nigel Hawthorne brilliantly plays the role of the King, creating a benevolent personage, a sort of aristocratic populist, who is, at heart, a family man. Yet, he understands, all too well, his role as King. His Queen, a loving and caring wife, is played to perfection by Helen Mirren. Rupert Everett wonderfully plays the part of their eldest son, the indolent Prince of Wales.

    The King begins his strange journey along the highway of dementia by shouting obscenities and behaving in a shockingly unseemly fashion towards his Queen's gorgeous lady-in-waiting, Lady Pembroke, played to ice maiden perfection by the always stunning Amanda Donohoe. He undergoes a total personality change. His doctor is mystified by these mental, as well as physical changes, which are broken up by moments of lucidity.

    The Prince of Wales see this weakness in his father as an opportunity for him to make a bid for control of the crown, and he rallies a slew of supporters. The ensuing palace intrigues depict the gamesmanship in which the King's supporters involve themselves in order for the King not to lose his crown in addition to his wits. The only question is whether the King will succeed in recovering his wits in a timely enough fashion in order for them to prevail.

    This is a wonderful film with a first class supporting cast. The production values and cinematography are also first rate, and the film won an Oscar in 1994 for its art direction. The film also addresses an issue that did, in fact, arise during the reign of King George III. It is now believed that the King may have suffered from a hereditary illness of the nervous system known as Porphyria. In any case, this is a brilliant, award caliber film that lovers of historical dramas and period pieces will, no doubt, enjoy. Bravo!...more info
  • " He hops on the colonies?!"
    A funny, entertaining film about post-American Revolution England, and the crazed king that rules the country. Great performances by Nigel Hawthorne and other great supporting actors. Incredibly funny scenes, with King George running about the English countrside pretending to knock colonists about. All in all, this movie should be viewed by anyone interested in British colonial history and also anyone who is prepared to view a good, entertaining movie....more info
  • One of the best movies of the decade
    "The Madness of King George" caught my eye accidentally while
    browsing through a video section in a store, and I have not forgot it. After I saw this movie, I was convinced that art did not disappear in today's film industry, and that it can perfectly merge with entertainment. The real eye-opener about the movie is how it perfectly blends drama, comedy, and history in one delightful nutshell. The story of how a determined group of people kept the aging George III sane and in control is beautiful and touching, accentuated by hilarious comic moments and desperate cries for affection from the part of the viewer that do not go unanswered. Exceptional performances by Nigel Hawthorne (in one of the best pieces of acting seen in a long time), and Ian Holm as his doctor are unforgettable....more info
  • What What?
    I was thrilled when Nigel Hawthorne was nominated for the Best Actor oscar for his performance as George III in this film, not only because this was a stunning performance, but because of his history on the stage (which I was privileged to attend often in London) and with BBC productions. Sir Nigel (as he is now fashioned) is perhaps best known by television audiences as Sir Humphrey Appleby, the scheming civil service mandarin from the Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister series. I have admired him for years (and most recently got to see his great performance of Lear in London).

    This film also starred such British acting heavy-weights as Helen Mirren as the queen (think of the Prime Suspect series on the BBC/PBS Mystery, among others), Ian Holm as the physician (most recently noted for his performance of Lear, now available on video), and Rupert Everett as the chomping-at-the-bit Prince of Wales.

    The drama was intensified by collapsing or conflating actual historical events (alas, the play and movie would have one think that good king George actually recovered his wits and ruled; the truth is more sad, that he had recurring bouts of delirium and hysteria until finally succumbing to a dementia that lasted for years, and thus the Regency was established).

    Poor George has gotten a 'bum rap' in America for being the 'tyrant' against whom the colonials rebelled; history shows, however, that far from the being the evil dictator, he was in fact perhaps the kindest and most enlightened monarch in Europe at the time, well loved by the people, and concerned for government more than his own pleasure. Artistic, well humoured and well mannered, George was perhaps the last monarch in Europe who should have been so tarred by the negative history with which he has been saddled.

    This movie gives a little insight into that character of man. Set after the war with the colonies, George begins a slow process of deterioration. Seen here are the inhumane treatments prescribed for such people (I wonder if our modern medicine with machines and contraptions will look similarly barbaric 200 years from now?).

    Lavish sets and costumes accentuate the film to give a very royal feel. Political intrigue, disfunctional family dynamics, and social class consciousness all arise in differing measure to make this a truly intricate plot; however, much of the politics and psychology are more for modern audiences than are actual re-creations or representations.

    My favourite scene has to be the one in which George is reciting, in the gardens at Kew, a scene from Lear, in which Lear is slipping into madness.

    'Lear!? Is this wise?'
    'I don't know, I'd never read it!' came the doctor's response.

    To see the king slip into sanity so subtly as his performance of Lear presents a slide into insanity is a treasure.

    The postscript at the end, a direct criticism of the royal family, in which the king pronounces that their main purpose is to be a model family (and the hint in the closing that the disease of porphyria, George's most-likely ailment, is hereditary) is amusing if not entirely appropriate.

    In all, a fabulous film....more info

  • I'm here, but I'm not all there
    The year--1788. The loss of that place that must not be mentioned by England has gradually sent King George III down the slope to insanity, so some ministers say. His emotional rantings, rushing out in the early morning in bedclothes with his attendants in tow, and even an imagined flight from a flood causes tumult within the Royal household. Some actions in his "catalog of regal nonconformities" are harmless, as he plays cricket with a group of peasant children, and visits a farmer, admiring the pigs.

    This causes a political struggle between the Whigs and Tories. Prince George, the future George IV, wants the take advantage of his father's deterioration to be named Regent, translation: "king in all but name and all the power, subject to Parliament... and certainly all the funds." He also wants his secret marriage Maria Fitzherbert, a Catholic widow, to be recognized in the open. In this, he has enlisted Charles James Fox, former foreign secretary under Rockingham and now an opposition leader who supports America to the point of saying, "If a few ramshackle colonists can send him packing why can't we?", Doctor Warner, and later, the Lord Chancellor, Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow. Supporting the king is William Pitt the Younger, prime minister (1783-1801), who advocates parliamentary procedure and insists that Parliament has the right to decide who should be regent and under what terms. Queen Charlotte and Lady Pembroke, the king's mistress, are also on the king's side, as is his new equerry, the eager and loyal Captain Greville. The political struggle is another type of madness, as it has torn at the fabric of the government that is the envy of all nations.

    The king's contempt for doctors is shown when he rants at Dr. Baker, who has given him senna, a mild purgative. "Mild? Forteen motions and you call it mild? I could have manured the whole palace." His views on sleep are amusing, as he wakes his handlers at four AM. "Six hours is enough for a man. Seven for a woman, and eight for a fool." That places me between a woman and a fool, then.

    The role of the royal family as the symbol of England is also an issue. Prince George wants to do something, like handle some things in government. A line from his mother as they wave to their public is telling. "Smile, you lazy hound. It's what you're paid for. Smile and wave." I wonder Prince Charles has heard that from his mum.

    The classical music score includes Handel's Water Music, adding to the splendour of the Georgian court. And this is based on Alan Bennett's play, Bennett of course being a collaborator of Dudley Moore, Peter Cook, and Tim Brook-Taylor in the 1960's.

    However, the sobering lack of knowledge of porphyria, which is the modern diagnosis of what ailed the king, and is a hereditary metabolic disorder of which George suffered acutely and intermittently, is also a kind of madness of the ignorance of 18th century medicine. Yet, Dr. Willis does the best he can in avoiding the usual pronouncements and recommendations of the court physicians.

    Nigel Hawthorne should've gotten a Best Actor award from some ceremony for playing the monarch, displaying the manic ups and downs, and sufferings of George III with great aplomb. Ian Holm gets the next honours as Dr. Willis, who stubbornly defies convention and sees the king nor as the king, but as a patient, and dares to look him in the eyes. Helen Mirren of Prime Suspect is Charlotte and Rupert Everett does a good turn as the Prince. However, Julian Wadham plays Pitt with great dignity and honour. And Geoffrey Palmer (As Time Goes By) is Warner. Also, the petitioner who attacks the king is played by Janine Duvititski (Jane in the Waiting For God series). Interesting look at one of the most misunderstood monarchs of England, what what?...more info

  • Royals Embroiled
    You think Queen Elizabeth II had it bad when she referred to her "annus horribilis"? Nothing compared to poor King George. A divided parliament, religious intolerance, the colonial uprising (that's us Americans)and a slimy son plotting to overthrow dear old Dad and gain the throne. Add to that a physical ailment being diagnosed as mental disease, throw in the torturous treatment of mental illness in that era, sprinkle with royal protocol and intrigue, and you have the Madness of King George. Spectacularly played by Nigel Hawthorne as George, and Helen Mirren as Queen Chrlotte, who give performances that are both royal and touchingly human, demonstrating both a country and a family in crisis. This movie boasts an excellent supporting cast and authentically detailed period costumes and settings, it's a feast for Anglophiles, history buffs, costumers, and those who appreciate good cinematography. "Madness" goes down as one of my all-time favorite movies....more info
  • a Fantastic Bittersweet film!
    This is a triumph of acting. Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren shine in this movie. While it has been criticised that Helen's German accent comes and goes, I think it was acceptable. Accents are just funny that way. And Mirren's acting makes up for it, especially in the "Do you think you are mad" scene after the Handel concert.
    Ian Holm gives a superb performance as the determined little "mad doctor".
    The costumes are stunning, the music (all Handel, George's favorite) gorgeous and brilliantly adapted, the story is bittersweet, at times painful, other times painfully funny! This movie is an underrated little gem.
    Wish the DVD held more features such as behind the scenes or actors bios or something! It's seriously lacking in that department, but doesn't detract from a wonderful film!
    Recommended for all Anglophiles....more info
  • An Excellent Historical Film!
    Born in 1738, George III went on to become England's second-longest-ruling monarch, clocking in at nearly 60 years (only his grand daughter, Victoria, ruled longer). In 1788, however, the King took ill with severe stomach pains followed by severe mental instability and derangement. One of the dominant characteristics (amongst other things) was an uncontrollable (and often obscene), unstoppable, delusional, rapid, rambling speech which often went on for hours on end. The illness lasted only a few months, but it is this period that is the subject of the film.

    Although George III certainly had his faults (not to mention the odd peculiarity), he was nonetheless a conscientious, responsible, and uncommonly down-to-earth monarch and a very honourable, morally upright man who was devoted to his family. His eldest son, the Prince of Wales, could not have been more different, however. He was a gambler, a womanizer, and a spendthrift who was chronically short of money. For him and his like-minded cronies, a Regency would be a godsend. So they attempted to have Parliament pass a bill to that effect.

    One has here all the elements necessary for a ripping good story, and although liberties have necessarily been taken both for the sake of art and entertainment and in order to squeeze the story into 110 minutes, the film does a better job than many with the facts. As for the acting, it is quite simply unsurpassed. The performance by the late Nigel Hawthorne (Yes Minister/Prime Minister, Mapp & Lucia) as George III is simply breathtaking--sheer perfection. Hawthorne (who sadly died on Boxing Day 2001) was even nominated for an Academy Award for his role. Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect) is splendid as his wife, Charlotte; while Rupert Everett effortlessly evokes our loathing as the dissolute Prince of Wales.

    George III has, in the 20th century, been posthumously diagnosed as likely having had porphyria (a rare hereditary disorder). For those unfamiliar with his reign, although he did indeed recover from his illness and go on to have many years of good health, the illness eventually caught up with him. In 1801, he suffered a relapse and was dogged with recurring bouts of illness over the following few years, not to mention failing eyesight. The final blow was struck in 1810 when his youngest daughter took ill and died. The King's health and sanity deteriorated to the point where he could no longer rule and a Regency was established in February 1811. He died in 1820.

    I enjoy English history and historical biographies immensely, and I enjoyed this film. I would certainly recommend it to others with a similar interest, but I would also recommend it to anyone who simply enjoys a good period drama. I would also recommend, for those looking for a more in-depth treatment of the life of George III, the biography entitled George III--A Personal History by Christopher Hibbert....more info

  • Watching this movie is time well spent
    My wife and I really enjoyed this memorable movie. The acting is superb and the story original (as well as historic). This movie is they type of quality that only comes out once in a while. We watched this movie to the end and waited to read all of the credits. ...more info


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