A Companion to the Biopic, ed. Deborah Cartmell and Ashley D. Polasek (Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2020), 269-282.
Two recent biopics, The King’s Speech and The Theory of Everything, deal with figures who suffer from speech impairment. This chapter makes some preliminary observations of the patterns of representation in these films. In dealing with vocal disorders, the films first dramatise the traumatic loss of voice, which leads to the erasure of King George VI’s self‐identity and erosion of Stephen Hawking’s self‐worth. Next, the films delve into their tribulations and the quotidian aspect of how they gradually gain a voice through therapy, technology, and privileged social status despite their disability. The third and final stage deals in their redemption and heroic transformation. The Theory of Everything navigates the fine line between public disgust of voice disability and the craving for what might be called ‘supercrip’ figures. By painting the ‘crip’ figure as inspirational, the supercrip narrative makes the stories more palatable to the able‐bodied viewers.