The Madness of King George (1994)

madness of king george poster 1994 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Interesting approach to the story

Period pieces aren't for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Madness of King George

Studio:  The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Genre(s):  Drama/Comedy

Release Date(s):  December 28, 1994

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

madness of king george nigel hawthorne helen mirren

What, what?

Something is wrong with King George (Nigel Hawthorne).  He’s been acting out and even his wife Queen Charlotte (Helen Mirren) cannot seem to calm him.  With the King’s mental health in question, a power grab could be coming and the country could be up for grabs.  The only hope is that King George can regain his senses and reclaim the throne.

Directed by Nicolas Hytner, The Madness of King George is a comedy-drama based on the 1991 play The Madness of King George III by Alan Bennett.  The film won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction with nominations for Best Actor (Hawthorne), Best Supporting Actress (Mirren), and Best Adapted Screenplay.

1994 was a powerhouse of Oscar nominations.  You have Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, and like it or hate it, Forrest Gump…plus, Paul Newman.  Then there is Nigel Hawthorne.  The actor had few big credits to his name and starred in a period piece, and as a kid I largely ignored The Madness of King George.

madness of king george nigel hawthrone academy award

I’ve had better days

The movie does have interests.  It explores a really strange occurrence in 1788 where King George briefly lost his mental faculties and the kingdom was threatened.  Instead of playing it as entirely heavy handed, the movie (and play before) tell the story with a lot of humor and levity.  This keeps the movie from being a complete downer and allows Hawthorne to excel.

Hawthorne portrayed King George on stage and had to fight to play him in the movie (he allegedly took Demolition Man just to increase his screen credit to get this role).  He plays the king’s raging emotional swings and the physically taxing portions of the role.  Helen Mirren is a nice supporting wife who is a victim of being a woman in a time when she has little say.  Ian Holm is the doctor with extreme measures who is a bit of a scene-stealer as well.

madness of king george royal family nigel hawthorne helen mirren

That’s one wacky family

The movie is visually strong, but it is rather typical period piece.  The regal nature of the film is nicely done and much of the locations do give a very historic appearance and sets the tone of the story.  The attempts to “cure” George of his madness (including strapping him to a chair and gagging him) come off as rather horrifying (but stories of mental health’s treatment over the century have been even worse).

The Madness of King George is cleverly written, but the movie is still a period piece for those who aren’t necessarily fans of the genre.  Nigel Hawthorne’s portrayal of George does raise the film above many other films of similar style and has held up over the years.  It is worth seeking out…what, what?

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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