Monday, February 21, 2011

Just A Little More Morphine For The King, Please

Following the dust-up between Christopher Hitchens and David Seidler, who wrote "The King's Speech," I learned this bit of history, which didn't make the movie. It's Seidler talking to HuffPo's Patricia Zohn:
The only cut I still regret is the exclusion of King George V's euthanasia. The old King was dying, but not on time. Everyone wanted the news to first appear in the respectable Times and on the BBC, not via the disreputable afternoon papers who might mention David's (Edward VIII) scandalous affair with American twice divorcee Wallis Simpson. The deadline (no pun intended) was midnight. The King was inconveniently lingering so they hurried him along with an injection into the jugular vein of a mixture of morphine and cocaine. I felt that including this not only gave more drama to the sequence but also demonstrated the immense power of the new media, which is what Bertie was going to have to face. Although the scene was filmed, Tom and the producers ultimately felt it was such a controversial subject it might overshadow the rest of the film. They're probably right but I still regret the cut.
It seems to me it demonstrated the immense power of the king's doctors. I doubt if anyone forgot about Mrs. Simpson just because the Times got the exclusive. One of the most powerful moments in the somewhat overrated movie was Bertie's outrage at the suggestion by his speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), that his brother's love life might someday put him on the throne. "That's treason!" shouts the dutiful royal, marvelously portrayed by Colin Firth. Meanwhile, there are the palace attendants in the shadows, doing what they do.


Robyn Henk said...

The hastened demise of the King by lethal cocaine/morphine injection, so that his death could be reported in the morning news, was a great surprise to me when I read the book by Mark Logue, Lionel Logue's grandson. The fact that no one seemed amazed, outraged, or even surprised by it was a greater surprise to me.

Fr. John said...

I agree, Robyn. Even in the middle ages, they appeared to wait for the sovereign to die in the sovereign (and Sovereign's) good time.

Robyn Henk said...

Guess it IS better to be just a "commoner" :)

J.C. Marrero said...

The Palace also had a great pre-death announcement. It reported that the king's [George V) "life was peacefully drawing to a close". But with the right little mix, that would apply to us commoners as well, I guess.