Thursday, January 20, 2011

The King's Speech & Nate

We went to see The King's Speech and I admit that I had high expectations.  As a movie, it was great.  In the time allowed, I think they did a fabulous job at telling the story and it was entertaining and interesting.

As far as the stuttering?  Not so much.  Shortly into the movie, Nate turned to me and said "I thought you said he stuttered?"  I said "Yes, he did." To which Nate replied "That's not a stutter!"

After the movie, we talked about it and we all agreed that it was a good movie.  The boys had some questions about British words (stammer vs. stutter, shillings, etc.) and also a few questions about the history of the time.  And both boys repeated again "He didn't really stutter much."

Nate wanted to know why they couldn't have gotten somebody who really stuttered, and Colin chimed in with the caveat that if they did, it would have to be somebody who was able to really control it so that he could do the scenes when he spoke fluently.  Nate wondered if Colin Firth actually talked to anybody who really stuttered.  I assured him that he probably did, but the way they portrayed it in the movie was probably seen as most commercially viable.

To which Nate replied that he thought that was ridiculous, because if people think that he (the character) had a terrible stutter, then his (Nate's) stutter must be seen as absolutely horrible.  (And my heart broke a little bit for him.)

I agree that Colin Firth's stutter sounded more like Nate on a good day than a bad one, but that may be because I'm the mom of a boy who stutters.  What I didn't like most of all was the implication that his stuttering was a result of his upbringing and the neglect of his parents as well as the abuse of his nannies.  I do understand at that time in history, it was commonly thought that those things may cause stuttering (okay, even today some people think it causes stuttering.  I've heard that Nate stutters because he & Colin are 18 months apart . . . among other ridiculous things). 

The reality is that nobody really knows why some people stutter.  There is a genetic link for some people, but that is actually just a small percentage of people who stutter.  But scientists have pretty much made it clear that stuttering is not a result of neglect or abuse by parents or caregivers. 

Overall, it was a good movie.  Nate liked seeing the story of a person who stuttered, and was famous.  He also liked seeing the struggle that he had with his stutter (even if he didn't think he had much of a stutter.)  But, I would like people to remember that it is a period piece, and that there has been much advancement in understanding stuttering in the decades since!


  1. Anonymous8:28 PM

    I've not yet seen the film. I don't know if I'll get to it or not. I hear mostly positive feedback from those who probably don't have someone who stutters in their lives. It may increase some understanding for those who aren't acquainted with stuttering. Maybe like seeing Iris for those who aren't intimately acquainted with dementia... Perhaps a bad analogy, but film treatment and even news accounts of things that we know well often turn out to be disappointing. My heart breaks a little for Nate as well.

  2. I, too, took issue with the implication that the king's stutter was due to his upbringing. I need to watch it again with my husband, but I am also afraid of a breaking heart. The first time I saw it my son had not yet started his therapy, and we didn't realize that in just a year our lives would change so drastically. (My son's stutter really only began to manifest this fall. He went from no disfluencies to stuttering within a span of weeks. It is still all so new for us. )

    My child has a mild stutter. Although it isn't severe it is still very real for him resulting in personal stress as well as teasing at school. I believe that there are people on a stuttering spectrum, so to speak, and although one child's stuttering may be "worse" than another's it is still an issue for the "mild" stuttering child and their family.


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