The primary thesis of David Chandler’s article Representing the Mad King: George III in the Cinema is both films Beau Brummell, which was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1954, and The Madness of King George,directed by Nicholas Hytner in 1994. These two films show different portrayals of King George III and diverse attitudes towards his illness.
To prove the thesis, David Chandler says that Beau Brummell was the first on-screen representation of King’s madness after the print of King George III by Thomas Rowlandson. A scene of King’s insanity took place in Windsor Castle, when the King spoke about Psalms which was very irrelevant at the time; it was the moment he attacked the footman with no apparent reason. The King also acknowledged his madness and tried to strangle his son. The other film production showed the King in more detail. Viewers of The Madness of King George sympathize with the King, because his insanity is shown as a result of frustration. He had bad relationships with his sons, especially with the Prince of Wales. He was also worried about two other issues, namely the court protocol and the loss of American colonies. In this film, the King tried to struggle with his insanity, as opposed to his deeds in Beau Brummell. In The Madness of King George it is supposed that the King suffers from porphyria and consequently his madness is the result of the physical disturbance, but not vice versa.
I would also like to highlight strengths and weaknesses of the chosen article. The first strength of this article is that both discussed films were relevant according to the years when they were produced. In the first film young members of royal families were pitied. They had to follow different social and stifling moral rules. By the end of the twentieth century young royals were strongly criticized, because they did not fulfill their duties. They betrayed the values of royal families and respect given to them on the account of their forebears. In comparison with these young people, there is an example of a great Queen. Queen Elizabeth was loyal to old-fashioned royal values even during horrible times for all members of her family. Thus, both films are considered to be revealing mirrors of those times.
The other strength of the article is that the author masterfully showed why the second film got such a good reputation, and explained why the acting of two main actors of both films was so magnificent. The performance of Robert Morley in the first film was highly praised, because he performed his acting stunningly. Viewers could see erratic movements and unfocused stares, which were the clear signs that George III was dangerous and insane. On the contrary, the main actor of the second film, Nigel Hawthorne played a very sympathetic and humane figure.
The weaknesses of this article are as follows: there are few examples of scenes from two films, and the relationships between the King and his eldest son are not described in detail (it would have been very relevant to describe their relationships in the case of King’s insanity).
I find this article very interesting and useful. Everyone, who loves history, will gladly read this article and will get to know the origins of both films; viewers would like to unveil more information about the main actors of two films. The article by David Chandler is a great comparison of two films and a great flashback of the causes of George’s III madness. This article is also of paramount importance, because it showed the attitude of common people towards royal family in different historical periods.