|Daniel Williams as Prince John|
The Lost Prince's direct portrayal of seizures is hard to watch... but worth it. Few things are more scary to see for the first time than a child having a seizure. But by the third or fourth time, compassion starts to eclipse horror. Every family living with epilepsy reaches that point, but it would be great if society at large could as well. The horror response, and the fear those with epilepsy have of evoking it, conserves epilepsy's persistent stigma and bolsters its aura of shame. Exposure to realistic portrayals of seizures may help.
The Lost Prince also captures the remarkable resilience of children with epilepsy and the perspective they bring to those around them. As the royal family struts and wrings their hands over picayune protocol and the "horrors" of perceived and real slights, Prince John opts out and instead draws funny and incisive portraits of the family's follies. He is the only one brave enough to speak up when the emperor has no clothes. Having a child with epilepsy--and, in the case of John, learning disabilities as well--can bring a quick and corrective perspective shift in families. But that was a shift the royal family wasn't prepared to make. At least not until the death of the delightful young prince, probably from status epilepticus--a seizure that won't stop--at age 13.
After the funeral, Prince George, still a teenager, tells John's devastated nanny that his brother "was the only one of us who was really allowed to be himself." It is no small consolation. As for Prince George, his stammering is not portrayed in The Lost Prince. One royal disability at a time, I guess. A good excuse to see both films.