Gary Maddox – SMH January 24, 2011
THE Sydney film producer Emile Sherman is not surprised the smears against The King’s Speech have started even before the Academy Award nominations are announced this week.
”We were expecting the politicking,” he said from Los Angeles. ”It’s competitive.”
In what seems like an early start for Oscars mud-slinging, an email sent to a Hollywood blogger accused the film of largely glossing over ”the Nazi-sympathising past” of King George VI, who overcomes a debilitating stammer with the help of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue in the film.
”I’m an academy member and there are a LOT of us who won’t vote for The King’s Speech for that reason,” the email said.
It is a familiar story in Oscars history: a damaging slur is raised – often anonymously – against a contender for best picture.
Last year The Hurt Locker faced claims from soldiers that it was sloppy with the facts. A producer was also banned from the Oscars for urging Academy members to vote for it instead of ”a $500 million film”, Avatar.
The year before came accusations – denied by the filmmakers – that two child actors in Slumdog Millionaire had been exploited.
Encouragingly for Sherman and Geoffrey Rush, who plays Logue and is executive producer, both films went on to win best picture at the Oscars.
The King’s Speech joined The Social Network as joint frontrunner for best picture by taking the top prize at the Producers Guild Awards on the weekend.
While critics say there is some truth to the claim that George VI indirectly conspired with Hitler to prevent European Jews reaching Palestine, the British newspaper The Guardian has noted The King’s Speech was scripted by David Seidler, a Jewish writer whose grandparents died in the Holocaust.
Sherman has said he sees no reason to defend the film against the claim.