My wife and I saw "The King's Speech" on Saturday night. To say the least, it was an emotional moviegoing experience.
If you don't know the film's plot, it's the true story of King George VI's stuttering problem while trying to inspire the United Kingdom at the dawn of World War II.
I'm actually a bit soft when grading movies, but my top 10 list is iron-clad. To join my top 10 club of the likes of "Rocky," "Jaws," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "King Kong (1933)" and "The Shawshank Redemption," that film had better deliver in several categories.
This one does, and now another must be bumped as my top 10 all-time movie list has a new member. The film, headlined by the breathtaking performances of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, is what moviegong is all about, but for me, it hits home. As a child, I was a stutterer.
Firth's portrayal of King George VI was riveting, but not just because he had the act of stuttering down pat. As all stutterers will attest, it's not the act of a stammer that paralyzes you in the figurative sense.
It's the frustration of knowing the ability to pronounce words without a hitch is inside of you, but your body and mind won't allow them to flow off your lips. It's knowing people are staring at you. It's wondering what people are thinking. It's your self confidence taking a hit each time you stammer through a word. Firth's performance illustrates those frustrations and fears. I cringed during the film's opening scene in which the main character struggles immensely during a ceremony at Wembley Stadium.
I eventually beat my impediment - it was a mild case. Nonetheless, the sense of accomplishment helped me grow as a person. It creeps back on occasion if I'm not careful. My wife, friends and family might not catch it, but I certainly do and I'm embarrassed when it happens. It scares the heck out of me, forcing me to concentrate and relax.
Unfortunately, some never overcome stuttering. Hopefully, watching "The King's Speech" helps and inspires those people. Still, the film isn't solely about stuttering. It's about self confidence and overcoming personal fears.
For me, "The King's Speech" is right up there with the likes of "Rocky" and "Rudy" as one of the most inspirational movies of all time, and I'll be rooting hard for it to win all the Oscars it can in a few weeks.
If that happens, it will be a special night for all stutterers, past and present.