More wit than wisdom? More style than substance? Both these charges have been levelled at The Madness of King George, but neither are entirely fair. It could be that the notional subject matter--the psychological collapse of George III, later attributed to the neurological disease porphyria--implies a profound, analytical approach of the kind associated with Oliver Sachs. However, as the screenplay was written by Alan Bennett, based upon his stage play The Madness of George III, what we have here is a typically shrewd, elegant and poignant depiction of how the world seems when viewed by someone who sees things in their own unique way. And as it is by Bennett, who allows himself a brief, bumbling cameo appearance, the dialogue is of course scalpel-sharp throughout and often extremely moving.
The historical accuracy is strong on detail, but there's an element of artistic license, such as the depiction of HRH's apparent partial recovery at the close of the film (although the scene itself, in which Hawthorne's befuddled monarch rallies himself to address his subjects, is a joy). In the end, though, we really don't mind.
On the DVD: the widescreen DVD extras include the theatrical trailer, a featurette and a lucid commentary by director Nicholas Hytner. --Roger Thomas