Theme: Telling the story aright
In his latest movie The Lost King, English Director Stephen Frears returns to the subject he loves to explore; true life characters with social class struggles. In opening shots the film’s title, The Lost King, is followed by the claim “Based on a true story . . . Her Story”. The her of course is Philippa Langley, the amateur historian whose dogged research and unremitting persistence led to the discovery in 2013 of King Richard III’s remains buried underneath a Leicester social services car park.
Frears is determined to not just retell the story of finding the King’s bones, but of uncovering the framework of societal class structures which infect society with prejudices, injustices, discriminations and unfairness.
The Lost King tells the stories of two people, King Richard III and Philippa Langley, and how they were misjudged, and in being misjudged became lost, and in being lost made voiceless. But how in helping one another aided by a small group of “believers” were resurrected, redeemed, and honored.
The movie opens with “Her Story”. Philippa Langley is nervous and apprehensive about a job promotion she has worked long and hard to obtain. When she is passed over by six younger attractive people, she complains to her boss who in no uncertain terms tells her she is at the “right level for you!” Having suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome for years she believes she is being misjudged for her age, gender, and disability.
Attending Shakespeare’s Richard III play that very evening, she is deeply troubled by the King’s portrayal as a deformed usurper who committed murder. Knowing Richard died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and Shakespeare’s play wasn’t even written until 1593, she suspects the Tudor kings of corrupting Richard’s legacy for personal gain. She embarks on her quest to uncover the true story and thus her own story becomes entwined with his.
Her life soon becomes consumed with King Richard. Skipping work she reads book, studies his life, and attends meetings of his devoted followers, the King Richard III Society. The king starts “appearing” to her in the most unlikely places. At one point she begins to wonder if he is “lost”. It’s no coincidence her family and friends wonder the same thing about her . . . as in, has she lost her mind!
However, to Philippa the hunt for Richard’s grave becomes an obsession to set the story straight, to right a terrible wrong. She knows if she can find the lost king, it will give him a voice. The search so energizes her, making her come alive and being the “something” she has always been looking for.
In trying to give the King his voice an amazing thing happens; Philippa finds her true self and her own voice. She not only is able to articulate why an archeological dig should take place, she is able to give “voice” to all the small believers worldwide who want to see it happen by initiating a crowd funding campaign. And of course, at the end her strong stand and voice overcomes great opposition and she “buys back/redeems” with the funds last eight hundred dollars the right to follow her feelings and discover the king.
The word resurrects means to restore to life, to revive the practice, use or memory of (something), and bring new vigor to. Its synonyms are: revive, revitalize, renew, reinstitute, and re-establish, all are fitting words to describe the resurrection of King Richard III; from an ignominious unmarked, unknown, dirt grave hidden for 527 years to a royal burial in Leicester Cathedral celebrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and stamped with the royal coat of arms. The body being raised was only the beginning. The city of Leicester built a new King Richard III Visitor Center revitalizing the city while the study of Richard’s remains made clear he was not the evil withered arm hunchback of Tudor accounts but rather suffered from Scoliosis of the spine and thus his reputation and honor were restored.
As for Philippa Langley, who was once passed over for a “super team” in some marketing firm, she ended up on a world-wide team of the Richard III Society, and in June of 2015 was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to the exhumation and identification of Richard III. The MBE honor quite exceeded the label she had been forced to use in always explaining herself as having ME (chronic fatigue).
The reason the end of the movie is so beautiful, moving and hopeful is because King Richard III and Philippa Langley’s stories are made right. Every human being knows the feeling of being broken, misjudged, lost and voiceless and like Philippa are at some level looking for something or someone. All want their stories told aright.
The beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Christ means King) is that the King of Kings became lost and voiceless for them, going down into the most ignominious death and grave but having committed no sin was raised by the power of God with a new kind of life . . . a life that can never be extinguished by death (Philippians 2:5-11). He offers this gift of new and everlasting life to all the broken cast out and lost voiceless souls who will receive Him. The King Jesus Society is simply those who enjoy fellowship with him and each other, having their stories told aright and looking forward to the glorious resurrection and the life in the New Creation which began the day he arose.