The Madness of King George III

Topics: George III of the United Kingdom, George IV of the United Kingdom, Frederick, Prince of Wales Pages: 12 (2745 words) Published: June 30, 2014
The Madness of King George begins at the end 1788 when King George III’s sanity began to be questioned. The film documents the struggles surrounding the politics and relationships within the Royal Family during King George III’s battle with mental illness. The movie ends only six months later in April of 1789 when King George III is found fit for duty and returns to his regular routine. Despite several historical inaccuracies, The Madness of King George accurately displays the hardships associated with King George III's illness in conjunction with the responsibilities of his office. Alan Bennett originally wrote The Madness of King George in 1991. The award winning film, released in December of 1994 in the United States, also appeared in March of 1995 in the United Kingdom. Alan Bennett was born in Leeds, England and attended Oxford University, later working as an actor, screenwriter, and author. Nicholas Hytner produced many historical films before directing The Madness of King George. Some of his work includes, Henry IV, Henry V, Miss Saigon and several other films based on the writings of Shakespeare. 1 In 1760, the sudden death of King George II placed his grandson, George III, on the throne. Approximately one year later, he was married to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, a seventeen-year-old girl from a small duchy south of the German Baltic coast.2 Born the following year, their first son, the future George IV was followed by fourteen other siblings at almost an annual pace. George III’s first decade as King was not free of problems, but was fairly calm in the arenas of government and personal sanity. George III competently assumed the position as king and won, for the most part, the hearts and minds of his people. In the opening scene of The Madness of King George, Nigel Hawthorne, the actor playing King George III, refers to himself as “Farmer George” in a quite pompous manner. His subjects assigned the nickname due to the King’s obsession with land maintenance and their shared interest in farming. He cared deeply about his position as king and spent a great deal of money collecting books on politics and government as well as agriculture, theology, and astronomy. 3 His real challenge with sanity did not begin until 1788, when its severity caused an uproar in Parliament and the entire United Kingdom. Over George III’s first decade as king, he appointed three separate prime ministers. Alan Bennett’s screenplay makes no mention of Lord Bute, who was his mentor and close friend, and also became his first prime minister, followed by Lord’s Grenville and North. As he did regularly, George III wrote to Lord Bute: “I cannot bear tormenting you with the many grievances I have when I can possibly keep them to myself. ” 4 The desperate, emotional tone expressed in this letter can be found in most of their correspondence, even years before George became King. Soon thereafter, the King was faced with a turning point in history, the American Revolution. Unfortunately, William Pitt the Younger, King George III’s fifth prime minister who served him from 1783 to 1801, felt the brunt of the King’s insanity. 5 The beginning of the film shows King George’s alternating feelings towards Queen Charlotte and Lady Pembroke. It also depicts his struggles with Parliament and his eldest son, undocumented tirades and an assassination attempt. The film also depicts scenes of extreme stomach pain, supposedly due to porphyria, and the King’s irrational behavior during musical ceremonies. Some of these examples are significant; however, many of the scenes are padded for entertainment sake. For instance, the screenwriter, Alan Bennett, wrote screens of George III and his second eldest son riding horses through a field, stopping to see a local farmer. He also wrote and George III playing the game of cricket with local children and walking through a field ranting about Parliament. All of these events could possibly be...
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