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"The King's Speech" and the fear factor

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Laurie Sparham/The Weinstein Company/AP

(Read caption) Colin Firth portrays King George VI and Helena Bonham Carter portrays the Queen Mother in a scene from, "The King's Speech," which was named best picture at the Academy Awards.

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In an exceptionally raucous time in global and national news -- a time of revolution in the Middle East, budget fights in Washington, and a loud debate over government workers and unions in statehouses nationwide -- the story of a British monarch's fight to overcome a debilitating stutter won the Oscar for best picture.

There were no dazzling special effects or dramatic chase scenes. The stars were not the hottest of Hollywood A-listers. Why did the public love the movie so much?

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"The King's Speech" has been analyzed and praised by hundreds of critics. Some have noted the theme of friendship across class boundaries. In his review last fall, the Monitor's Peter Rainer saw the film, among other things, as one of the very few "that plumb the psychological resonances of royalty instead of merely illustrating them."

To millions, however, the theme of overcoming fear must have resonated deeply. Anyone who has ever had to grapple with public speaking, any reluctant leader who would be much happier quietly reading a book or listening to music, knows what George VI was struggling with.

Fear holds people in subjugation. Fear keeps individuals from realizing their potential. Fear takes the joy out of life. When fear is fought and overcome –when we throw off the shackles of dictatorship, challenge ourselves in new ways, or quietly step up to our moral responsibilities to ourselves and others – we remember that we all have a voice.