The Madness of King George: Wikis


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The Madness of King George

original film poster
Directed by Nicholas Hytner
Produced by Stephen Evans
David Parfitt
Written by Alan Bennett
Starring Nigel Hawthorne
Helen Mirren
Ian Holm
Amanda Donohoe
Rupert Graves
Rupert Everett
Music by George Fenton
Georg Friedrich Händel
Cinematography Andrew Dunn
Editing by Tariq Anwar
Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release date(s) December 28, 1994 (US)
March 24, 1995 (UK)
November 2, 1995 (Australia)
Running time 107 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

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.



Background and production


Title change

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, because of the use of Roman numerals in its title. However, Hytner has stated that the principal reason was to clarify that this was a film about a king, particularly in America as it is a country that has always been without royalty.[1] The film's star, Nigel Hawthorne, confirmed this in interviews.

Filming locations

The film was shot at Shepperton Studios and on location at:


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. The King's doctors attempt humoral cures such as blistering and purges. Meanwhile, another of the King's physicians, Dr. Pepys, blindly analyses the King's stool and urine believing that body wastes may contain some clue to the Royal malady. Finally, Lady Pembrooke recommends Dr. Willis, an ex-minister who attempts to cure the insane through behaviour modification. None of the three methods of treatment entirely cures the King; eventually his body heals on its own.

Besides the King's personal struggle with mental illness, the film also depicts the relative powerlessness of the British monarchy in a time when Parliament had become 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. Thus the film also documents the shift in the British government from a monarchy with limited political power to the makings of a modern constitutional monarchy.

Awards and honors

Academy Awards

The film won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction, and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Nigel Hawthorne), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Helen Mirren) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

BAFTA Awards

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

Helen Mirren won the Best Actress Award and Nicholas Hytner was nominated for the Golden Palm at the 1995 festival.[2]


External links

Preceded by
Shallow Grave
Alexanda Korda Award for Best British Film
Succeeded by
Secrets & Lies


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