The Shmooze

Could 'The King's Speech' Oscar Hopes be derailed by Holocaust-Themed Smear Campaign?

By Nathan Burstein

  • Print
  • Share Share
Weinstein Company

The Holocaust, for better or worse, turns up at the Academy Awards as often as Meryl Streep. The genocide has been so ubiquitous in recent years — in movies ranging from “The Reader” to “Inglourious Basterds” — that next month’s Oscars will be notable partly for the absence of films that address it.

That hasn’t stopped the subject from turning up in pre-Oscar campaigning, however. In an e-mail sent out after Sunday’s Golden Globes, an anonymous writer criticized one of this year’s front-runners, “The King’s Speech,” for “largely “gloss[ing] over the Nazi-sympathising past” of the movie’s protagonist, England’s King George VI.

Focused on the king’s real-life speech impediment and his relationship with his speech therapist, the movie is among the favorites to take home the Best Picture Oscar on February 27. Its star, Colin Firth, picked up a Golden Globe on Sunday for playing the king, and is widely expected to claim an Oscar as well.

But the new e-mail, purportedly sent by a member of the group that votes for the Oscars, says the film leaves aside important information about the king, who in the film must give an important speech on the eve of the second World War. “[W]hen it came to actively working to stymie Jews fleeing Hitler’s Germany, George actually communicated quite eloquently,” the e-mail claims.

Some Oscar watchers have raised an eyebrow at the e-mail, saying it echoes past campaigns undermining the chances of front-runner films. “Is the email that I received part of some sort of coordinated smear campaign that is being orchestrated [to harm] ‘The King’s Speech,’ or is it really from an Academy member who would like others to take note of documented facts about the film’s subject that are not reported in the film?,” wrote entertainment writer Scott Feinberg in a blog post reprinted by England’s Daily Mail. “I can’t say for certain, but I do know that it certainly calls to memory other curiously-timed whispers.”

The e-mail includes a link to a 2002 story from England’s Guardian about George VI, including a 1939 letter in which he was described as being concerned about “Jewish refugees … surreptitiously getting into Palestine,” which was then under British control. The king “was glad to think that steps are being taken to prevent these people leaving their country of origin.” Whether any of this will derail “The King’s Speech” remains an open question, of course. And the film is not the only front-runner accused of distorting history.

“The Social Network,” about the creation of Facebook, has been criticized by some for its negative portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg, the social-networking site’s billionaire founder.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The King's Speech, Nazi, Holocaust, Colin Firth

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.