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The Madness of King George

This article is about the 1994 film. For the play by Alan Bennett, see The Madness of George III. For the 2004 political satire, see The Madness of King George (book).

The Madness of King George
File:Madness of king george-715444.jpeg
original film poster
Directed by Nicholas Hytner
Produced by Stephen Evans
David Parfitt
Written by Alan Bennett
Starring Nigel Hawthorne
Helen Mirren
Ian Holm
Amanda Donohoe
Rupert Graves
Rupert Everett
Music by George Fenton
Georg Friedrich Händel
Cinematography Andrew Dunn
Edited by Tariq Anwar
Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release dates
  • 28 December 1994 (1994-12-28) (United States)
  • 24 March 1995 (1995-03-24) (United Kingdom)
Running time
107 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $15,238,689

The Madness of King George is a 1994 film directed by Nicholas Hytner and adapted by Alan Bennett from his own play, The Madness of George III. It tells the true story of George III's deteriorating mental health, and his equally declining relationship with his son, the Prince of Wales, particularly focusing on the period around the Regency Crisis of 1788. Modern medicine has suggested that the King's symptoms were the result of acute intermittent porphyria, although this theory has more recently been vigorously challenged, most notably by a research project based at St George's, University of London, which concluded that George III did actually suffer from mental illness after all.[1] Filming of the movie took place from 11 July to 9 September 1994.


The film depicts the relatively primitive medical practices of the time and the suppositions that physicians made in their efforts to understand the human body. After King George III begins to go mad, his doctors attempt cures such as blistering and purges, led on particularly by the Prince of Wales' personal physician, Dr Warren. Meanwhile, another of the King's physicians, Dr. Pepys, analyses the King's stool and urine believing that body wastes may contain some clue to the Royal malady; of course, none of these attempts to cure the King actually works. Finally, Lady Pembroke, attendant to the Queen, recommends Dr. Willis, an ex-minister who attempts to cure the insane through behaviour modification, and who begins his restoration of the King's mental state by enforcing a strict regime of strapping the King into a waistcoat and restraining him whenever he misbehaves. Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales has been scheming to have himself made Prince Regent, at which point he will effectively be King. He allies with the opposition, led by Charles James Fox, to Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger's increasingly unpopular government. Tensions rise as the day of the Prince's appointment as Regent draws near, but Dr Willis is making good progress with the King, managing to bring him from his raving and violent state of mind back to a level of normality. As he improves, the King becomes less eccentric, and even manages to recite Shakespeare. Once the Lord Chancellor, Baron Thurlow, hears of the King's rapid recovery, the race begins to get the King to Parliament in time to stop the Prince of Wales being appointed Regent. They arrive just in time, the Prince's plans are thwarted, and King George returns to the loving company of his wife the Queen.


Background and production

Title change

In adapting the play to film, the title was changed from The Madness of George III to The Madness of King George. An urban myth has developed that the title change derives from the fear that American audiences would think the film was a sequel, because of the use of Roman numerals in its title. However, Hytner has stated that the principal reason was to clarify that this was a film about a king, particularly in America as it is a country that has always been without royalty, since it separated from Great Britain.[2] The film's star, Nigel Hawthorne, confirmed this in interviews.

Filming locations

The film was shot at Shepperton Studios and on location at:

Awards and honours

Academy Awards

The film won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction (Ken Adam, Carolyn Scott), and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Nigel Hawthorne), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Helen Mirren) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.[3]

BAFTA Awards

The film was nominated for a total of 14 BAFTA Awards and won three: the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film, the Best Actor (Nigel Hawthorne) and the Award for Best Make Up/Hair (Lisa Westcott).

Cannes Film Festival

Helen Mirren won the Best Actress Award and Nicholas Hytner was nominated for the Golden Palm at the 1995 festival.[4]

Empire Awards

Nigel Hawthorne won the Best Actor Award at the 1st Empire Awards.[5]

Box office

The film debuted strongly at the box office.[6]

See also


External links

Template:London Film Critics Circle Award for British Film of the Year