Before this movie was released, I didn't know very much about King George VI. I knew more (though not a lot more) about his brother, Edward VIII. I've always rather respected Edward for following his heart, but by the end of this movie (which takes a rather unflattering view of Edward and his eventual wife, Wallis Simpson) I was completely in love with George, to the point that, during the final scenes, I was wondering what happened to him. I knew that he died, of course, and I vaguely remembered that Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne sometime in the 1950s, so with the final scene of the movie taking place 1939, I was suddenly struck by the sobering realization that at that point he had less than twenty years left to live. A year ago I didn't know or particularly care to know anything about him, but as I left the theater, I had come to care so much about him that I really wanted to find out exactly when and how he died.
I think my favorite part of the movie was the warmth of the scenes involving his wife and daughters, especially contrasted with the strained relationships he had with his parents and his brothers (no wonder he stuttered!). Apart from the end, to me the most poignant scene is when the king returns from his accession ceremony (I think) to find his family getting ready to move to Buckingham Palace, and he goes to embrace his daughters and they suddenly, awkwardly, perhaps even fearfully remember that he is the king and therefore, they believe, is due a higher level of respect and formality, so they curtsy to him rather than hugging him. As I've said, I've always respected King Edward for making a sacrifice to follow his heart and marry the woman he loved, but now I'm starting to wonder if King George had to make an even bigger sacrifice.
As is often the case, this movie had me contemplating the definition of courage. I've always thought that King Edward was courageous, but I also think that King George was courageous for rising to the occasion in taking up an unpleasant duty, for putting his country before himself, for working so hard to overcome his human frailties and for making himself vulnerable to possible humiliation through his public speaking.
Colin Firth was magnificent and all the cast was quite excellent, but I particularly enjoyed Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill. I think that Guy Pearce did a very good job and was a good physical match for King Edward, but I didn't really think that he looked older than Colin Firth and sure enough, Colin Firth is actually older than Guy Pearce.