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Thursday, May 19, 2011

The King's Speech

I just got done watching The Kings Speech, and it surpassed any expectations I had for it. There are few movies I feel like I learn a lot from, but this was definitely one of them. It focuses on an individual's personal struggles that impede his ability to achieve his full potential.

First off, I believe this movie deserves all of the praise it has received because it portrays a story using romanticism more effectively than most other movies that I have seen try and do this. Most movies that try to be romantic (for those of you who dont understand-I'm not talking about love or anything like it) usually feel too much like soap operas to me and while they may be touching to some people, they leave me feeling disgusted that I wasted the last two hours of my life watching them. The reason why? They focus too much on evoking emotion without real substance behind the story. Therefore, I never get anything solid out of them. Too many times they revolve around a sappy love story, or a Disney-like story that ends perfectly. Other times writers will add a twist and show the sad side of Disneyesque stories, but they are still trying too hard to evoke one type of emotion or another, and that is it. If any morals are taught, they are boring and obvious, therefore the movie does not do a good job of leaving a lasting impression on the viewer that makes him or her think. The Kings Speech however, is different. It does not spell out exactly what you should be taking from it, nor is it designed around simply evoking emotion. While I see how it can evoke emotion, it does so much more than that.

The main character has a simple speech impediment. That speech impediment is not what most would consider something to completely ruin someone's life and not allow them to achieve greatness. However to the main character, it is his personal roadblock to unlocking his potential.The entire movie is focused on that simple, small problem in his life. While history books hundreds of years from now will probably not even mention the fact that King George VI stammered while speaking, this movie sheds light on the things that are not always out in the open and the things that are not important to a nation, but plagued the person directly responsible for that nation. It was by overcoming his small - to him seemingly big - obstacle that he was able to gain the confidence to take the throne and lead a nation.

The most interesting part of the movie to me was a clip where the main character was sitting in a room with his family watching film of Hitler commanding the Nazi soldiers. Hitler is shouting words to them angrily and the main character's daughter asks what he is saying. The dad responds saying that he doesnt know, as he does not speak German. Then, he watches as thousands of Nazis respond energetically to Hitler's words and it is obvious he questions his own ability to lead a nation, as he is nowhere near the orator that Hitler is. He cannot understand a single word that is said on the film, but to him what is said is not important. The fact that Hitler was able to talk and spout things off the way he did was in the main character's mind an important contribution to how Hitler was able to take control of a country.

In the big picture, it was not important to me exactly what held King George VI back, but that he had an insecurity and recognized a flaw about himself that he allowed to get in the way of his life and take control of everything he did. I am sure that if a mute king was born, he could simply use an orator or something to read his speeches for him. Having a speech impediment does not necessarily make someone unworthy of royalty. It was a personal hurdle for him that in his mind made him unworthy. He even mentioned in the movie that he was afraid people would call him "Mad George the Stammerer".

Now the point which I have been leading up to is that this movie's conflict is one that I believe everyone has. Some may have it to a higher extent than others. We all have imperfections that act as obstacles for us to achieve our full potential. Some of these obstacles are not things that we can simply conquer once and never have to deal with again. After the movie, a caption stated that the king had his speech coach in the room with him for every wartime speech he ever gave. That means that most likely, he never got over his problem, but continued to work at it so that it would not get in the way of what he wanted to do.

I know countless people who have come to me with problems in their lives. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and even just a disposition to making mistakes often are just a few of their problems. I was a classic example of someone who ran into a problem in life. I have always struggled with anxiety and sometimes the depression that accompanies it. But more recently, it plagued me much more than I ever imagined it could. It started with an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach for no reason I could think of. Every day it grew worse, and I would be scared of everything. I stopped going to my classes, refused to wake up to go to Air Force, and wanted to do nothing but run away from everyone and everything. I forced myself sometimes to go to class where I would randomly have panic attacks for no apparent reason. I would close my eyes and try and focus on anything I could to get my mind off of the anxiety. It was so bad that I would cry because I couldn't control my brain, and that scared me. I thought that there was no way even Hell was this bad. The worst part was I could not tell anybody about it because nobody could possibly understand. "It's all in your head and you just need to get over it" was something I heard a lot. My mind would not stop fueling my anxiety. I woke up multiple times with my heart and arm hurting or numb. The first time I thought I was having a heart attack. My heart would palpitate and skip beats all day long, and I never felt comfortable. I envisioned what would happen if I lost my scholarship because of this. Then as it got worse I realized there was no point in having a scholarship because I could not even function enough to walk five minutes to my class. I could not possibly function in society at all. I felt lonely. Not because I had nobody to talk to or hang out with, but because my mind was doing things that nobody could understand. I thought differently from other people. I realized that it was getting to the point where I couldn't make friends ever or meet new people, and I could not talk to my old friends because all wanted to do was get away from life, and nobody understood me. I thought I would probably end up on the streets as a hobo because I could not do anything. Thinking about everyone I knew moving on and me only being a memory of the kid who went crazy to them scared me. This to me was my "stammering". Finally a miracle happened and things which are too personal for me to write online happened and I was able to overcome my problem without the use of medicine, counseling, or anything else. I was made aware that my anxiety would not permanently go away, but that I would have to work at suppressing it whenever it manifested. One of the happiest moments of my life was when I realized that my biggest roadblock to achieving my dreams had been conquered. Although it was only temporary and I knew that, it gave me assurance and hope that when it came up again, I would be able to overcome my "stammering" just like I did the first time.

The purpose of writing this was not to tell the world about my problems, or to try and make people feel bad for me. But the reason was to point out that this movie made me reflect on the "stammering" I have had to learn to deal with in my life and share my thoughts about the trials in everyone's lives that may threaten their futures.

The most intelligent people I know who have the most promising futures I can imagine also have some of the biggest problems. This is not to say that if you don't have problems you are not intelligent, but I believe that a lot of times intelligence comes with a disposition to depression, anxiety, or another mental illness. Most of the most intelligent and influential people in our history suffered from mental instabilities that I'm sure made them question their ability to do whatever they wanted to do in their lives.

Mental illnesses and things of that nature are not the only things that you could consider obstacles in your life. The Kings Speech shows that even something as small as a speech impediment could possibly stop you from achieving your potential. 

I realize that I am writing this at 2 in the morning so there is a good chance that it makes no sense whatsoever, but I urge everyone who reads this to realize that in their life, obstacles will present themselves. I am not talking about religion and the spiritual obstacles that will threaten your spiritual well-being. I am talking about temporal obstacles that will pose threats to your future and the things you can do for the world. You may question what you could possibly do for the world or anyone in it, you may see yourself as not good enough to do what you want, you may even question your motives for living. I just ask that when you run into these obstacles, you fight through them. Never give up because in the end making the best of your situation and achieving your full potential (whatever that may be) will do a lot more for you and for the people you come into contact with than allowing yourself to fall victim to the many possible things that could stop you. I went months suffering from what I can only explain as my mind being trapped in Hell. But luckily I had parents urging me to press forward and not give up. I now urge you all to do the same when life throws things at you that seem impossible to overcome.

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