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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

The Inspiring Battle of a Stammering King – Analysis

September 3, 1939 was the magic date that gave birth to the movie The King’s Speech. In this day, England declared war against German and started what we call the Second World War which lasted from 1939 to 1945. This time, the King of England was King George VI and one of his duties in times of war was to make his people feel safe, optimistic and hopeful among all the agony, that is why he used a revolutionary instrument of mass communication to make a speech (the most important of his life) and achieve his people, making them trust him. However, The King’s Speech is not about its background under the war but it is a brief summary of the King’s life and primarily his inspiring fight against his stammering, and that is the message which you should expect from the movie.

Prince Albert, Duke of York (played by Colin Firth) who was called Bertie by his family and later by his language therapist Lionel Logue (played by Geoffrey Rush), is a stutterer and therefore cannot make great speeches the way his father King George V (played by Michael Gambon) did. Public speaking is a very important task when you are part of royalty, but it becomes even more important when you are a king. To improve his speech, his wife Elizabeth, Duchess of York (played by Helena Bonham Carter) scheduled meetings with a few language therapists. None of the therapists pleased him until he met Lionel Logue who had a different approach to attack his problem and made the difference in his successful reign. In the beginning of the treatment, Bertie was pessimist, impatient and short-sighted; he did not believe he could be cured at all; this conversation between Bertie and Lionel exemplifies it: “I’m not here to discuss personal matters.” “Why’re you here then?” “Because I bloody well stammer!” “Temper.” As the movie goes on, he gets more used to Lionel’s simple approach and allows himself to be part of that new reality he experienced, which is completely different from his fancy royal life. In the end, Lionel becomes friend of the royal family and becomes one of the King George VI’s advisors.

The movie was not only based on royal journals and reports but also based on its writer’s (David Seidler) experience during the Second World War, because he was also a stammering and so he experienced the improvement in the king’s speeches which made him feel hopeful about his own problem as well. Although the available material the writer had to write about, the movie is not totally accurate compared to the real story, and the changed facts implicated in some dissatisfactions from the referenced people in the movie (for example Albert’s brother).

The first dissatisfaction which was about Albert’s brother, King Edward VIII, and his easily abdication of the throne which had a lot more details than the movie shows, making people have wrong interpretation about the king and some of his attitudes in real life. Also, about the reason of his abdication, the involvement of an important character in history was not well valued in the movie; it was Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister who had a close relation to King George VI; he had great influence in the abdication.

The movie does not show the reason for the King Edward VIII, after abdicating the throne, had moved with his wife to somewhere else, there is only one random scene in the end showing them listening to the great speech, but the truth is that King George VI managed to move them away because Edward agreed a lot with the Nazi and wanted to be close to them, and George was afraid of possible deals between his brother and the Germans.

Another fact that was changed in the movie was the time the Duke of York took for his therapy with his new friend Logan which was actually some months instead of years as the movie showed. It made his stammer looks more complicated than it was in fact. Albert’s wife had an important role in helping him to pass through his issue with speeches, but in contrast to her behavior in the movie, she was a lot more simplistic in real life; in the movie she allows herself to talk to Logue and visit his house, but she does not look comfortable at all there.

Although the changes made in movie, the director’s intends should be remembered, and he did not meant to tell the whole true story but he had less than three hours to transmit an inspiring message about two wars happening in the same time, the King fighting his own war against his stammering while fighting in favor of his people against the German. That is why the lack of accuracy did not contribute for a change in the theme presented.

The movie was well structured using great techniques that gave strong emotions to the movie viewers. Danny Cohen made a very good work in the cinematography, using a likely scenario representing the beginning of the 20th century; the movie brings a real image of clothing and atmosphere in that time. A very good example about the scenario is the old brown furniture used in Logue’s office and also the machine to record Albert’s voice in their first therapy session; and women’s mid dresses well exemplified the ones from that time.

Most part of the story is in indoor spaces (Logue’s office and the English Palace, for example) and the director opted for darker shoots to give a good sense of the old time period; he used high saturation and values colors for it; brown, beige, orange and gold are the predominant colors in the scenarios. It is not the kind of movie with too many emotional scenes, so the editor Tariq Anwar created a piece by catching the actors’ physiognomy to give as much emotion as he could, that is why they focused in catching Albert’s expressions in a single close angle of the camera, because his emotions were the focus of the movie; this part of the work was not hard because Anwar worked with really good actors; Helena Carter and Geoffrey Rush were nominee to the Oscar award, and Colin Firth was in fact the winner of the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in 2011.

The type of cut that was used more often was from one scene to another that continues; also using the transition in which you can start hearing another sound or another voice before the scene changes most part of the time in the movie, especially when two people were talking to each other. The main type of focus was the one person focus (the one that shows only one person on the screen), usually showing the person who is speaking.

The music (by Alexandre Desplat) helps by creating emotion according to what is happening in each moment and according to what the characters are feeling, for example, when Prince Albert first recorded his voice in Lionel’s office they used an exciting type of music, and when he was giving some speech they used more calm songs. Most of them are orchestra songs including some Beethoven Symphonies.

The narrative was well summarized in terms of just focusing on the reason that King George VI desired that therapy so much and why he worked so hard to get good results, just like the passage “If I’m King, where’s my power? Can I form a government? Can I levy a tax, declare a war? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority. Why? Because the nation believes that when I speak, I speak for them. But I can’t speak.”; everything in the narrative revolved around the greatest speech he would have to give to his nation to relieve the tension built among people due to the war that was about to come.

The techniques used in the film perfectly followed the thematic content (royalty’s life compared to subject’s life decades ago, in England), especially the period it occurred, which is one the most important characteristics that helps to understand and feel the movie. It gives you a sense of reality instead of making you think the movie is making fun of the king or any thought like that. There is also an interesting message in the movie which is “if you have a problem you first need to sincerely want to fix it and fight for it”; it means that you need to be interested in your problem more than anyone else, and your desire to fix it has to be greater than anyone else too; to exemplify it, Lionel Logue asks him “Do you want to be treated?” more than once during his sessions with the King.

The King’s Speech shows a different perspective of the war and also an introspective view about the main character, the King. It uses simple techniques in a brilliant way so that is not a coincidence that the movie was a lot rewarded later. If you know what to expect from the movie, you will definitely have a great time and will feel inspired watching it while improving your knowledge about an important king in history.

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