The loved him and became his queen, and

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The loved him and became his queen, and

    The film The King’s Speech is
directed by Tom Hoper. The film is the confidential story of a famous public
man, King George VI (he is known as Bertie in his family circle) the woman who
loved him and became his queen, and the ingenious Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, who helped him(Bertie)
control and come to terms with the stammer that had bother him since childhood.
The social and political background, acutely observed and carefully woven into
the film’s fabric, is the Depression at home, the rise of fascism abroad, and
the arrival of the mass media as a major force in our lives. Central to the
dramatic action are four vital incidents are the death in 1936 of George V, the
first monarch to address his subjects through the radio, the accession to the
throne of his eldest son as Edward VIII and his almost immediate abandonment in
order to marry American double divorcee Wallis Simpson; the crowning of his successor,
George VI, and finally, in 1939, the  outbreak
of a war for which the king and queen became puppets of limitless national importance
alongside their prime minister, Winston Churchill.

    In the opening scene of the film, a series
of camera angles including close ups, a low shot and a POV shot shows a large
gun-metal grey microphone shaped like a bullet, an intimidating shape. Emphasis
has been put on the microphone through the use of camera angles to portray the
idea that it is Bertie’s nemesis; it is a symbol of what Bertie will have to
face and overcome, as if he does not know how can he be a credible King of England?
Through the threatening way the microphone is portrayed, the viewer understands
that the microphone is Bertie’s enemy. He is not confident speaking into it as
it accentuates his stutter, this discouraging him from truly ‘finding his
voice’- he is unable to get his voice across when speaking into a microphone.
Before Bertie gives his inauguration speech to an enormous audience at Wembley
stadium, a medium long-shot looks down on him, he appears to be cowering at the
bottom of the stairs, symbolising that he’s going to have to climb his way up
and conquer his obstacles both physically and metaphorically if he is to ‘find
his voice’. With Bertie are three dignitaries dressed in black, looking very
grave and standing in front of a doorway with a sign above it saying ‘WAY OUT.”
The men are dressed like they’re going to a funeral, giving the idea that the
Duke is going to his ‘death’ and they’re blocking the only way out so there’s
nowhere to hide. As the future king walks up the stairs, a high-shot shows him
looking vulnerable and weak. Once he has reached the microphone, a wide point
of view shot (POV shot) pans the expansive audience in the misty Wembley
stadium, and the crowd becomes awkward and uncomfortable as the Prince of York
struggles to start his speech. One of the guard’s horses whinny’s as if mocking
Bertie- it seems to be saying “I can speak but you can’t”. This furthers
Bertie’s self-doubt and he continues to stutter and stammer throughout the
speech, much to the dismay of his wife and the audience. I wholeheartedly agree
that The King’s Speech hinges on the
excellent presentation of one or two key scenes, as the opening scene gives the
viewers insight into how intimidating and daunting it is for Bertie to speak in
public, especially when he knows it will end badly before he’s even started, allowing
the viewer to sympathize with him.

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    The opening scene of The King’s Speech
clearly addresses the severity of Prince Albert’s stutter. As the future king,
it is vitally important that Bertie is able to speak clearly, as England grasp the
new age of wireless media. Having had many speech therapists in the past with
no success, Lionel Logue is hired. He is an unorthodox speech therapist from
Australia who had previously helped soldiers with their own speech barrier after
the Great War. Lionel is essential in the success of Bertie both being able to
‘find his voice’ and regain his assurance after years of self- doubt. The
opening scene sets the theme of what it means to have a voice as the audience
sees Bertie struggling with his own, under difficult circumstances. A final
close up is shown of Bertie looking crushed as he stares out into the audience
of Wembley Stadium having failed to start his speech clearly and elegantly. The
viewers can understand from the very first scene that Bertie has run out of
courage and confidence to ‘share his voice’, thus making for a great and
inspiring film.

    On the other hand, in the closing scene,
the viewers see a medium-close up of Bertie, now King George VI, with a low
viewpoint so he appears larger, more confident and more in control. On the way
to the radio box, a medium shot shows the King standing in a comfortable circle
with the dignitaries, his back to the camera so we can see his relationship
with them; equals. This contrasts to the opening scene where the dignitaries
blocked him and looked down on him. Now we can see the nobility’s body language
is more relaxed and they look more encouraging. As Bertie makes his way to the
radio box, Tom Hooper has effectively added in the encouraging yap of a corgi
to link the opening and closing scenes together, but also to contrast against
the mocking whinny of the soldier’s horse. As Bertie walks down the hallway, a
POV shot on a hand held camera links us back to the opening scene, except this
time round the viewers can sense that Bertie is now stronger, more confident
and ready, side by side with the opposite emotions the viewers felt with Bertie
in the opening scene, uneasy and nervous.

    A final close up shows Bertie standing
front-on, with his nemesis the microphone covering his mouth. However, this
time around Bertie looks at it square on, as he is now more confident. As the
countdown begins for his broadcast, Bertie begins to look nervous and doubtful.
Nonetheless, dialogue from Lionel saying “forget everything else, say it to me.
Say it to me as a friend” reassures Bertie and he gives his speech fluently and
eloquently. As he is speaking, all fears of the microphone and his self-doubt
seems to dissolve as he realises he can in fact speak and he has finally found
his voice. Flicking shots of families and citizens are shown as they are when
they are receiving the speech through their radios. We are momentarily taken
out of the radio room into the lives of the people listening, citizens from all
walks life receiving the sombre news but at the same time being comforted by
the strong words of their king. I agree to a great extent that The King’s Speech was hinged on the
successful presentation of the opening and closing scene, as the viewers were
exposed to the contrast between the two scenes; the opening where Bertie was
intimidated, cowering and lacking self- confidence, to the closing scene where
the new King George VI is in control, proud and has dissolved all his
self-doubt. I believe that having seen Bertie’s mental and emotional journey
through the successful opening and closing scenes has made the movie great and
very inspiring.

    Director Tom Hooper makes an interesting
decision with his sets and visuals. The movie is largely shot in interiors, and
most of those spaces are long and narrow. That’s unusual in historical dramas,
which emphasize sweep and majesty and so on. Here we have long corridors, a
deep and narrow master control room for the BBC, rooms that seem peculiarly
oblong. I suspect he may be evoking the narrow, constricting walls of Albert’s
throat as he struggles to get words out.

   The quiet and classical sounds of the score
by Alexandre Desplat for The King’s Speech, provide a quality that brilliantly
sets the tone for the movie. With it’s strings and piano accents, I found
myself enjoying the mood evoked by the music when viewing the film in theatres.  The main theme of the film is reprised on
several tracks in different forms, and is usually played with a very light and
gentle feeling, breaking through a hint of optimism.  This being said, there is often a gentle
sadness and struggle presented throughout the score.  Repeated themes and notes are often also used
to evoke the sense of struggling that it was for the king to speak publicly.

    In conclusion, the opening and closing
scenes of The King’s Speech have
been skilfully used to present the idea of what it means to have a voice- and
to show the battle King George VI fought to find his. Tom Hooper has used the
two scenes to link cinematography and dialogue together to take the viewers on
a journey to realise what it means to have a voice, and how it can help you
perceive the world in a different way. Overall, with the pivotal help of Lionel
Logue, Bertie was able to successfully manage and work through both his
self-doubt and his fear of speaking, and was successfully able to rise to the
challenge of being a credible king. We can thus see that The King’s Speech was
indeed hinged on the success of the opening and closing scene, and as a result
was a great film. 

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