Twenty-two years ago the movie “Rain Man” placed autism into the national spotlight. Now another movie is thrusting a misunderstood condition into the public consciousness.
And from here to Australia the question is being asked: Can “The King’s Speech” do for stuttering what “Rain Man” did for autism?
The answer: It already has.
Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation in Memphis, Tenn., put it in perspective.
“This movie has done more to increase awareness about stuttering than we’ve been able to do in 64 years,” she said.
The film opens in Kansas City on Christmas Day, but Jeff Anderson, who has stuttered since he was young, attended a preview screening earlier this month.
“I thought it was very moving,” he said. “I hope this movie helps people be more patient with people who stutter, and it draws attention.”
The film takes viewers back to 1930s London to examine the relationship between Britain’s King George VI (Colin Firth), who struggled with a pronounced stutter, and Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), his unconventional Australian speech therapist. The film and its stars are generating a loud Oscar buzz and have brought stuttering worldwide awareness.
“We’ve heard from India and Australia,” Fraser said. “We even heard from a young man from Zimbabwe. It’s incredible what this is doing. I did an interview with CNN, and they asked who are some famous people who stuttered. I said James Earl Jones. And they said, ‘Oh, my! The voice of CNN?’ ”
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