Whatever you have to give, art takes. Great artists spurn living, in order to create. That’s why great artists are such shitheels: they ignore or feed-off the ones they love, because The Thing – perfection – has them entranced. To know that you are capable of greatness is a curse. But the thing you create – your masterwork – is infinitely rewarding. Art ruins people: it locks them in rooms; separates them from family; pours scorn on their talent; usurps their good health. It’s poison. But it feeds heroes. We admire great artists, even when they’re exasperating. Prima donna behaviour is accepted, so long as we see results. In Black Swan, a ballerina goes mad, and achieves perfection. Art: One; Artist: Nothing.
This movie embraces living. Your heart swells as you watch it. When James Franco cuts his arm off, all I could picture was James Stewart racing into Bedford Falls, jubilant, at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. That might seem a strange comparison, but the essence of both scenes is identical; in each, a man scrabbles for his life; each man chooses the ragged beauty of living; they spit, and yelp, and go on, unfinished. Better to be alive. Better, even if your right arm ends in a stump. Because, no matter how obscene it is to see a man sever his arm, it’s nothing like as obscene as seeing him dead. Blood shows proof of life in 127 Hours. It’s the antithesis of a horror movie. Please, don’t be put off if you’re squeamish.
Any story seems bigger when it involves a king. The ancient Greeks understood this. Most of Shakespeare’s plays could be subtitled: To Your Highness, With Love. Even my old (Marxist) creative writing professor used royalty to explain the difference between story and plot, e.g. the king died and then the queen died (story); the king died and then the queen died of grief (plot). Other than stick-in-the-mud republicans, we all pant at the mention of kings. There’s even a word – majesty – which specifies what we find so fascinating; you can’t be truly majestic unless you’re a monarch. If none of this chimes… if you hate royalty and hereditary privilege… you’re gonna be spitting blood as you watch The King’s Speech.