The Madness of King George


The Madness of King George

Critics Consensus

Thanks largely to stellar all-around performances from a talented cast, The Madness of King George is a funny, entertaining, and immensely likable adaptation of the eponymous stage production.



Total Count: 44


Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,351
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Movie Info

Based on Alan Bennett's acclaimed play The Madness of George III, The Madness of King George takes a dark-humored look at the mental decline of King George III of England. The film's story begins nearly three decades into George's reign, in 1788, as the unstable king (Nigel Hawthorne, reprising his stage role) begins to show signs of increasing dementia, from violent fits of foul language to bouts of forgetfulness. This weakness seems like the perfect chance to overthrow the unpopular George, whom many blamed for the loss of the American colonies, in favor of the Prince of Wales (Rupert Everett), but the king's prime minister William Pitt (Julian Wadham) and his wife Queen Charlotte (Helen Mirren) are determined to protect the throne. Doctors are brought in, but the archaic treatments of the time prove of little value. In desperation, they turn to Dr. Willis (Ian Holm), a harsh, unconventional specialist whose unusual methods recall modern psychiatry. Willis struggles to break through to the mad king, treating him with an anger and haughtiness George has never before experienced. Stressing the absurdity of the entire situation, Bennett's witty screenplay emphasizes dry humor over tragedy, even utilizing references to King Lear for comic effect. Hawthorne's fiery yet vulnerable performance received much critical praise, including Best Actor at the British Academy Awards and a nomination for the same at the Oscars. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi

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Nigel Hawthorne
as King George III
Helen Mirren
as Queen Charlotte
Ian Holm
as Dr. Willis
Rupert Everett
as Prince of Wales
Rupert Graves
as Greville
Amanda Donohoe
as Lady Pembroke
Julian Rhind-Tutt
as Duke of York
John Wood
as Thurlow
Anthony Calf
as Fitzroy
Janine Duvitski
as Margaret Nicholson
Peter Bride-Kirk
as Royal Child
Eve Cadman
as Royal Child
Thomas Copeland
as Royal Child
Joanna Hall
as Royal Child
Russell Martin
as Royal Child
Natalie Palys
as Royal Child
David Leon
as Footman
Dan Hammond
as Footman
Nick Irons
as Footman
Nick Sampson
as Sergeant at Arms
Jeremy Child
as Black Rod
Barry Stanton
as Sheridan
Caroline Harker
as Mrs. Fitzherbert
James Peck
as Willis' Attendant
Clive Brunt
as Willis' Attendant
Fergus Webster
as Willis' Attendant
Barry Gillespie
as Willis' Attendant
Joe Maddison
as Willis' Attendant
Selina Cadell
as Mrs. Cordwell
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Critic Reviews for The Madness of King George

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (11)

Audience Reviews for The Madness of King George

  • Mar 21, 2015
    Yeah, Bennett's screenplay is fantastic and so is the whole cast (Nigel Hawthorne in particular), but Hytner's direction is what makes the whole thing work, emphasizing the dark, dirty reality of late 18th century England through carefully chosen shots that recall "Barry Lyndon" in the best possible way.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 27, 2012
    This film has a top-notch cast and a fascinating true story. The costumes and locations are perfect. I felt as though I had traveled back in time to events in the Age of Enlightenment that may not have been quite so enlightened.
    Christian C Super Reviewer
  • Aug 27, 2012
    I saw this on DVD. Interesting look at monarchy. It raises questions about WHY monarchy of course. It was produced in 1994 and I think there were a lot of questions around then about WHY the monarchy when you had Prince Charles doing make-work waiting for mum to move aside--still waiting--and Fergie and Diana trying to figure out how to be real women while also being every little girl's fantasy--and Prince Phillip looking stern--and well, it's obviously a defunct institution but the Brits love 'em so who am I--an American, or a Colonist as King George would say--to tell them what to do? They're a colorful lot. This movie also really gets into the power behind the thrown--Pitt, Fox--great depictions and not unlike we're going through in 2012./
    Bathsheba M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 13, 2012
    Nigel Hawthorne is marvellous in this one. I have been disappointed by Hytner in the past but this one thankfully passed muster with flying colours.
    John B Super Reviewer

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