Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blogger Raises Thorny Issue About King's Speech at Writer's Panel

Went to the screenwriters panel discussion at the Santa Barbara Film Fest on Saturday morning. It was a fascinating discussion and perhaps was even newsworthy when David Seidler, who wrote the screenplay for the King's Speech, responded, I believe for the first time publicly, to an allegation made by noted journalist Christopher Hitchens on Slate, that the movie is "bad history" in that it glosses over the point of view that King George VI, along with his Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlin, leaned towards appeasement of Hitler in the run up to World War II.

The question was posed to Seidler by Hollywood Elsewhere blogger Jeffrey Wells who was in the audience.

Screenwriters on stage Saturday morning at the Film Fest.

Photo credit Chuck Cagara /

Seidler said the question was a fair one which he welcomed the chance to address. He pointed out that his grandparents perished in the Holocaust, so he found the notion that he would devote the time and energy he did to telling the story of someone who was anti-Semitic to be "vile."

Further, he pointed out, was the fact that it was under George's rein on the British throne that the United Kingdom, along with other nations, worked to establish the State of Israel. In his opinion, while the King's brother, Edward, and Wallis Simpson, the woman Edward abdicated the throne for, were both anti-Semites, George VI was definitely not.

The strength of Seidler's conviction on this topic came across even in the back rows of the Lobero where I happened to be sitting. The audience seemed to appreciate it and gave Seidler a heartfelt round of applause at the conclusion of his response to this particular question.

Wells seemed ready to poise a follow-up question, but moderator Anne Thompson quickly called on another member of the audience, squelching any opportunity for a debate between Seidler and Wells.

The panel discussion certainly had its lighter moments as well. When Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the screenplay to The Social Network had his turn to respond to the question, what is your writing process? His response was that to the untrained observer he would look like he's lying on his couch watching ESPN.
© 2011 by Craig Smith and