A meditation on power and the metaphor of the body of state, based on the real episode of dementia experienced by George III (now suspected a victim of porphyria, a blood disorder). As he loses his senses, he becomes both more alive and more politically marginalized; neither effect desirable to his lieutenants, who jimmy the rules to avoid a challenge to regal authority, raising the question of who is really in charge.
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.
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. The King's doctors attempt cures such as blistering and purges. 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. Finally, Lady Pembrooke recommends Dr. Willis, an ex-minister who attempts to cure the insane through behaviour modification. None of the three methods of treatment entirely cures the King; eventually his illness abates.
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Nigel Hawthorne as King George III
Helen Mirren as Queen Charlotte.
Ian Holm as Dr. Willis.
Rupert Graves as Greville.
Amanda Donohoe as Lady Pembroke.
Rupert Everett as The Prince of Wales.
Julian Rhind-Tutt as The Duke of York
Julian Wadham as George III's Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger
Jim Carter as Whig MP and leader of the opposition Charles James Fox.
The film was shot at Shepperton Studios and on location at:
Arundel Castle, Arundel, West Sussex
Bodleian Library, Oxford
Broughton Castle, Banbury, Oxfordshire
Eton College, Eton, Berkshire
Royal Naval College, Greenwich
St. Paul's Cathedral, London
Syon House, Brentford, Middlesex
Thame Park, Oxfordshire
Wilton House, Wilton, Wiltshire