- This article is about the 1994 film. For the play by Alan Bennett, see The Madness of George III (play) and for a 2004 political satire, see The Madness of King George (book).
The Madness of King George is a 1994 film directed by Nicholas Hytner and adapted by Alan Bennett from his own play The Madness of George III. It tells the true story of George III's deteriorating mental health, and his equally declining relationship with his son, the Prince of Wales, particularly focusing on the period around the Regency Crisis of 1788. Modern medicine has suggested that the King's symptoms were the result of porphyria.
The film stars Nigel Hawthorne as George III, Helen Mirren as Queen Charlotte, Ian Holm as Dr. Willis, Rupert Graves as Greville, Amanda Donohoe as Lady Pembroke, Rupert Everett as The Prince of Wales, Julian Rhind-Tutt as The Duke of York, Julian Wadham as George III's Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, and Jim Carter as Whig MP and leader of the opposition Charles James Fox.
Background and production
Alan Bennett refused to sanction a film version unless Nigel Hawthorne
was given first refusal for the title role after having a highly acclaimed performance in the theatre.
In adapting the play to film, the title was changed from The Madness of George III
to The Madness of King George
. An urban myth
has developed that the title change derives from the fear that American audiences would think the film was a sequel, due to the Roman numerals
. However, director Nicholas Hytner has stated that the principal reason was to clarify that this was a film about a king. According to a biography and interview with Nigel Hawthorn however, this was apparently true.
The film was shot at Shepperton Studios
and on location at:
- Arundel Castle, Arundel, West Sussex
- Bodleian Library, Oxford
- Broughton Castle, Banbury, Oxfordshire
- Eton College, Eton, Berkshire
- Royal Naval College, Greenwich
- St. Paul's Cathedral, London
- Syon House, Brentford, Middlesex
- Thame Park, Oxfordshire
- Wilton House, Wilton, Wiltshire
The film deals with the relatively primitive medical practices of the time and the suppositions that physicians made in their efforts to understand the human body.
It also depicts the relative powerlessness of the British monarch in a time when Parliament is supreme. The scene where the King is told what to do by a doctor for the first time (in breach of established protocol) and is restrained in a seat shows the King finally accepting his diminished role despite his protestations that he is the "King of England" and can do as he pleases. After his recovery, he is seen at the end of the film explaining to the Prince of Wales that the role of the royal family is to be seen to be happy, to wave to the crowd, and to be a model to the people of how to behave and conduct oneself.
Awards and nominations
- The film was nominated for a total of 14 BAFTA Awards and won three: the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film, the Best Actor (Nigel Hawthorne) and the Award for Best Make Up/Hair (Lisa Westcott).
Cannes Film Festival