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The Independent Culture
I watched that drag epic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on video the other day and as soon as I was finished I flung my mink over my jogging outfit (puce velvet with amusing leather trim) and headed off to see The Madness of King George (right). Well, after mad queens, mad kings seemed appropriate.

I loved it. That Nigel Hawthorne. A queen playing a King, that's what I call a stretch. And Helen Mirren was absolutely fabulous and Alan Bennett's script a dream and Nicholas Hytner's direction divine and the set design, well, it definitely deserved an Oscar, not to mention a window display of its own at Harvey Nicks and I can't top that, I can't.

But, but... it's the royalty thing. Is the dysfunction of a blue blood somehow automatically more tragic than, say, the madness of a working class girl, as in Ken Loach's Family Life? Or more moving than the banal complexes afforded by One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? Or as numbing as the everyday despair glimpsed by Diary of a Mad Housewife?

Watching flicks about crowned headers you might be convinced that their mental problems outrank the internal terrors the rest of us face. Take Visconti's Ludwig. Here's this cuckoo king of Bavaria building fairytale castles and staging full-scale operas at the drop of a plumed hat, and there's a wacko cousin who believes she's swallowed a glass piano and Visconti treats it all as tragedy when any member of the proletariat can see we're talking comedy. Oh, I take that back. I wouldn't want to be accused of having thoughts above my station.

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