Nazi controversy threat to King's Speech Oscar chances

By Jennifer Lipman, January 18, 2011
Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech

Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech

The award-winning film about Britain’s wartime king has been condemned for whitewashing history by an anonymous critic who some suggest is seeking to upset the film’s Oscar chances.

The King’s Speech, which stars Colin Firth as King George VI, follows the monarch as he ascended to the throne in 1936 and attempted to conquer his life-long speech impediment.

The film ends with the king’s powerful speech as Britain entered the Second World War, but in general makes few mentions of the Nazi threat.

However Hollywood blogger Scott Feinberg has revealed a letter, distributed to industry heads, accusing the film’s creators of “glossing over the Nazi-sympathising past of the tongue-tied monarch”.

The writer apparently said: “Would a more honest film have included these details?”

Mr Feinberg said that the letter included details of an Observer article from 2002 discussing secret historical documents regarding the king and his attitude towards the Jews in the run-up to the Holocaust.

According to the report, when the king discovered that “Jewish refugees from different countries were surreptitiously getting into Palestine” he asked his foreign secretary “to encourage the German government 'to check the unauthorised emigration' of Jews”.

The letter also highlighted a post on the New York magazine website by a Jewish writer, which said: “This blogger feels morally compelled to note that…when it came to actively working to stymie Jews fleeing Hitler’s Germany, George actually communicated quite eloquently.”

Because the letter has been sent to members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – the people who vote for the Oscar winners – Mr Feinberg suggested that a "coordinated smear campaign…is being orchestrated by someone with a vested interest.”

The film, which has already picked up a Golden Globe for Mr Firth and today was nominated for several Bafta awards, has been tipped as an Oscar favourite.

Its British Jewish writer, David Seidler, whose grandparents died in the Holocaust, has also been critically praised for the script.

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Last updated: 11:42am, February 9 2011