Words: Saam Das
European premiere of 'The King's Speech' (21 Oct '10)
Today may be the end of the 2010 London Film Festival, a sad occasion, you might say. So I figure I would talk about something happy related to the Festival. Thanks to a lovely PR called Alison, who also helped Paul get into the Aronofsky talk, I managed to get a ticket to the European premiere of 'The King's Speech' at the Festival. This is my account of a good evening.
I was one of several lucky "VIP" ticket holders for 'The King's Speech', thanks to American Express, who have been sponsoring this year's LFF. This so-called VIP experience entailed a champagne reception before the film, a ticket to see the film itself at the massive Odeon cinema in Leicester Square, and then an invite to the official afterparty in a swanky bar. Which was in Green Park, somewhat oddly.
Bearing in mind that I wanted to review the film and also was on my lonesome, I had little interest in the partying and the champers. I did, however, have to pop into the pre-film reception to pick up my ticket. That meant braving Ruby Blue, a bar that I've avoided for as long as I can remember. Turns out it isn't so awful there after all and I got to roam around the balcony bar, onlooking Leicester Square, which allowed me to lord it above the masses.
After a very short time, I was tremendously bored so tagged onto a group of people heading toward the premiere, which was just across the road. We had our tickets checked and then actually got to walk along the red carpet - which would soon inhabit the likes of Helena Bonham Carter and her hubby, some dishevelled bloke called Tim Burton. Good thing I dressed up for the occasion. Especially as there's a distinct possibility that I appeared in the background of a BBC interview, taking a camera phone photo of the red carpet, while Lizo Mzimba was interviewing one of the film's stars.
It was somewhat bizarre seeing the hordes of people waiting to see the stars, while us plebs were fannying around on the red carpet amidst a whole host of security. It truly did feel like another world. But one which was pretty vacuous so I popped into the cinema, being ushered away to the circle seats, where once again I got to lord it over the masses down there in the "stalls".
It turns out I sat down 45 minutes before the screening would start, and not 15 as I thought. Schoolboy error. Luckily, the couple sitting next to me decided to immediately start a conversation with me. I explained how I was a blogger, and in this case, a bit of a blagger. They even politely asked questions about the blog! What was particularly surprising was that it turns out one of them worked for American Express, proving that the words "nice" and "banker" aren't always contradictory.
The organisers had handily provided us with complimentary fancy chocolate and imported water (not as good as my favourite brand - Tap) but my evening was about to take a further turn for the better when none other than legendary/infamous Hollywood director John Landis (and his wife) came to sit just two seats away from me. Note: he kindly gave his free chocolate to the person sitting next to him.
Unfortunately, I momentarily forgot Landis' entire back catalogue of films so the extent of our conversation was him thanking me for getting up to let him past. Still, it was almost as fun to watch his reactions to the film as it was to watch 'The King's Speech' itself. Landis, was quite literally on the edge of his seat, often chortling away. Much like myself, in fact.
Before all that though, we had to put up with a bit of an ordeal which involved LFF artistic director Sandra Hebron and the director of this film, Tom Hooper, making long speeches. Hooper, in particular, thanked almost everyone ever and seemingly tried to bring the whole cast on stage to be celebrated. Which was lovely of him but a bit much. Eventually, I finally got the chance to savour what I'd actually turned up for.
'The King's Speech' is a rather wonderful film, and one which expertly combines humour and emotional drama with effortless ease. I'll save more of my chat for an actual review of the film, seeing as it's out next month in the US (although bizarrely, only out here in January). One thing I will say is that I strongly suspect that Colin Firth will win the Best Actor award at the forthcoming Academy Awards, even though I actually thought his performance in last year's 'A Single Man' was more impressive. But two brilliant performances in a row might not be overlooked....
After the film had ended, I thanked the pleasant couple (for being pleasant) and made a fairly swift exit. Not before I spied Gurinder Chadha though. I almost went up to talk to her to ask her what she thought of the film but her smile from ear-to-ear really gave it away. A common facial expression, judging from the dozens of other grins in the foyer.
While others were heading off to meet the likes of Firth and Hooper at the film's after party, I popped into Sainsbury's to buy a sandwich. Heading home on the tube, I began to write my review of the film on my mobile phone. You might even get to read it sometime soon.
'The King's Speech' is out on November 26 in the US and scheduled for release in January 2011 in the UK.