The Weinstein Company announced today that it will release a PG-13 version of its Oscar-winning film The King's Speech in about 1,000 theaters on April 1. The film's original "R" rating stemmed from a brief scene in which Colin Firth's stuttering character unleashes a stream of profanity at the coaching of his speech therapist, who noticed that when he speaks expletives, he doesn't stammer. This new version will silence the word "fuck" in that scene, which was used more than the two times that warrants an "R" rating.
This cleaned-up version of the film will be the only one available in theaters after April 1, and will appear on a DVD as well, to make the film suitable for showing in schools.
"The action enables those to whom it speaks most directly—young people who are troubled by stuttering, bullying and similar trials—to see it," the company said in a release—a sentiment Linda Holmes at NPR's Monkeysee blog takes particular issue with:
... the decision goes precisely against the point of the scene, which is that words are just words -- some are appropriately part of a thoughtful argument, and some are appropriately part of a polite conversation, and some are only for whispering in private. Some are for humor, some are for beauty, and some are for rolling around in your mouth like chocolate truffles just because they taste good. And some, as Bertie learns in the scene, are just right for shooting out of your throat percussively and without hesitation.
Just as there's a time to every purpose under heaven, there are times to swear and times not to, and for the studio to embrace the idea that some magical transformation from adult-oriented to family-friendly takes place because you park your finger on the mute button for 45 seconds is profoundly unsettling.
For posterity's sake, here is the original, unedited scene: