The Madness of King George
|The Madness of King George|
original film poster
|Directed by||Nicholas Hytner|
|Produced by||Stephen Evans
|Written by||Alan Bennett|
|Music by||George Fenton
Georg Friedrich Händel
|Edited by||Tariq Anwar|
|Distributed by||Samuel Goldwyn Company|
The Madness of King George is a 1994 film directed by Nicholas Hytner and adapted by Alan Bennett from his own play, The Madness of George III. It tells the true story of George III of Great Britain and Ireland's deteriorating mental health, and his equally declining relationship with his eldest son, the Prince of Wales, particularly focusing on the period around the Regency Crisis of 1788–89. Modern medicine has suggested that the King's symptoms were the result of acute intermittent porphyria, although this theory has more recently been vigorously challenged, most notably by a research project based at St George's, University of London, which concluded that George III did actually suffer from mental illness after all. Filming of the movie took place from 11 July to 9 September 1994.
The film depicts the relatively primitive medical practices of the time and the suppositions that physicians made in their efforts to understand the human body. After King George III begins to go mad, his doctors attempt cures such as blistering and purges, led on particularly by the Prince of Wales' personal physician, Dr. Warren. Meanwhile, another of the King's physicians, Dr. Pepys, analyses the King's stool and urine believing that body wastes may contain some clue to the Royal malady; of course, none of these attempts to cure the King actually works. Finally, Lady Pembroke, attendant to the Queen, recommends Dr. Willis, an ex-minister who attempts to cure the insane through behaviour modification, and who begins his restoration of the King's mental state by enforcing a strict regime of strapping the King into a waistcoat and restraining him whenever he misbehaves.
Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales has been scheming to have himself made Prince Regent, at which point he will effectively be King. He allies with the opposition, led by Charles James Fox, to Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger's increasingly unpopular government. Tensions rise as the day of the Prince's appointment as Regent draws near, but Dr. Willis is making good progress with the King, managing to bring him from his raving and violent state of mind back to a level of normality.
As he improves, the King becomes less eccentric, and even manages to recite Shakespeare. Once the Lord Chancellor, Baron Thurlow, hears of the King's rapid recovery, the race begins to get the King to Parliament in time to stop the Prince of Wales being appointed Regent. They arrive just in time, the Prince's plans are thwarted, and King George returns to the loving company of his wife the Queen.
- Nigel Hawthorne as King George III
- Helen Mirren as Queen Charlotte
- Ian Holm as Willis
- Amanda Donohoe as Lady Pembroke
- Rupert Graves as Greville
- Geoffrey Palmer as Warren
- Rupert Everett as George, the Prince of Wales
- Jim Carter as Whig MP and leader of the opposition Charles James Fox
- Julian Rhind-Tutt as Frederick, the Duke of York
- Julian Wadham as an MP and George III's Prime Minister Pitt
- Anthony Calf as Fitzroy
- Adrian Scarborough as Fortnum
- John Wood as Thurlow
- Jeremy Child as Black Rod
- Struan Rodger as Dundas
- Janine Duvitski as Margaret Nicholson
- Caroline Harker as Mrs. Fitzherbert
- Roger Hammond as Baker
- Cyril Shaps as Pepys
- Selina Cadell as Mrs. Cordwell
- Alan Bennett as a backbench MP whose speech is interrupted by everyone running out to see the King
- Nicholas Selby as Speaker
Background and production
In adapting the play to film, the title was changed from The Madness of George III to The Madness of King George. An urban myth has developed that the title change derives from the fear that American audiences would think the film was a sequel, because of the use of Roman numerals in its title. However, Hytner has stated that the principal reason was to clarify that this was a film about a king, particularly in America as it is a country that has always been without royalty, since it separated from Great Britain. The film's star, Nigel Hawthorne, confirmed this in interviews.
The film was shot at Shepperton Studios and on location at:
- Arundel Castle, Arundel, West Sussex
- Divinity School, Oxford
- Broughton Castle, Banbury, Oxfordshire
- Eton College, Eton, Berkshire
- Royal Naval College, Greenwich
- St. Paul's Cathedral, London
- Syon House, Brentford, Middlesex
- Thame Park, Oxfordshire
- Wilton House, Wilton, Wiltshire
Awards and honours
- Academy Awards
The film won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction (Ken Adam, Carolyn Scott), and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Nigel Hawthorne), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Helen Mirren) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.
- BAFTA Awards
The film was nominated for a total of 14 BAFTA Awards and won three: the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film, the Best Actor (Nigel Hawthorne) and the Award for Best Make Up/Hair (Lisa Westcott).
- Cannes Film Festival
- Empire Awards
The film debuted strongly at the box office.
- What Was The Truth About The Madness Of George III?
- Snopes.com title change
- "The 67th Academy Awards (1995) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
- "Festival de Cannes: The Madness of King George". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
- "Empire Awards Past Winners - 1996". Empireonline.com. Bauer Consumer Media. 2003. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
- Natale, Richard (3 January 1995). "New Year Box Office Starts Off With Bang Movies: At $15.5 million, `Dumb' stole the show during the long holiday weekend. But many other movies filled the seats as well.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 31 December 2010.
- The Madness of King George at the Internet Movie Database
- The Madness of King George at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Madness of King George at Box Office Mojo
- Mikkelson, Barbara & David P. "The Madness of King George" at Snopes.com: Urban Legends Reference Pages.