At the heart of King George’s madness was a power struggle. Defined by controversy and a case of economic castration, The Madness of King George is not just a great vehicle for Nigel Hawthorne’s eponymous performance but an exploration of regal insanity. King George III’s descent into madness is marked by a handful of odd eccentricities that modern medicine would pick up on sooner than those found in the 18th century. Hindsight is a beautiful thing. Nicolas Hytner adapts this Alan Bennett stage production with the calming efficiency founded in this period of British filmmaking. It seemed that the stuffy old stylings of Willy Russell’s Educating Rita had a profound effect on Bennett, whose work is thematically different but equally as proud of its roots.
Sequels struggle to improve where the first left off. Shrek had a successful, happy ending for its characters and had enough novel charm to it that it worked as a strong, efficient concept. Pulling punches at Pinocchio and other fairy-tale creatures, it knew the ground it was working on was original but limited. Doubling down on that for a sequel would not be possible. They had the characters, and they were surprisingly endearing. Shrek 2 knows that, hence why they are fired straight into the limitless setting of Far Far Away. It would’ve been irresponsible to restrict these refined, good-natured characters to a swamp and a forest, especially when there are pop-culture gags to be harvested elsewhere.
Detailing the fall from grace the side-villain of Shrek 2 had, Shrek the Third follows on the story of a man who believes himself to be the rightful prince. His life is tormented by that titular ogre, who has changed from swamp demon to beloved hero and royalty. Heir to the throne and not happy about such a change, much of this third in the quadrilogy of the Shrek series depicts an unhappy lifestyle for the protagonist. He is far, far away from the life he used to lead, and the toll is taking comedic mental effect. Setting out to find the next in line, Shrek (Mike Myers) and the reliable gang he has collected over the previous two instalments set off to find distant relatives who would be better suited to the royal lifestyle.