The King’s Speech (2010)
Directed by Tom Hooper
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helen Bonham Carter
I Have a Voice!
By Courtney Adkisson
The King’s Speech has a life of it’s own. It is one of the few movies I watch through pure enjoyment (even if the story itself is overall dramatic). But maybe you will, like me, be intrigued. This is all due to the simplicity of the story but also it’s complex conflicts. To be honest, the conflicts are very original for a film story (especially one based on a real person). Here’s what I really got out of it.
Something about its essence throughout the entirety of the film struck me as unique. As much as I believe Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helen Bonham Carter did an outstanding performance, I do not believe that that was the only thing that struck me about this film. You’ll notice that perhaps the style is very distinct in it’s overall nature. Do you honestly see something even just look like The King’s Speech? Perhaps but it seems consistent with that nostalgic view that we see historic London (WWII or otherwise). But the thing is, me as a viewer and as a filmmaker now, I love color and lighting experimentation. It sets the mood to any film. It was even greater when the cinematography was exquisite. Every shot had a purpose for being there. Every lighting choice had a purpose and enhanced the emotional turmoil Colin Firth was feeling.
What is fantastic about this film is that the struggle is real. And with that in mind, all of the elements of the film were very fitting for a man who is struggling with himself. It’s no better that he is a royal as well as a public figure. But his speech impediments and disabilities show his vulnerability. So how does this film really reflect on that through the elements of camera shots, lighting and color?
Lets start with the color and lighting (because they are one in the same if we think about it). Something about it to me as a viewer makes it stand out. Whether it is noticed or not, since the very beginning, the lighting is perceived of limited colors, mostly gold, orange, and a few pale blues, imitating daylight. What’s amazing is that these same colors also compliment the simple costuming of the grays, browns, blues and blacks that each of the characters wear. The pale daylight creates softness around the room and on the faces of the characters. This forms accents, setting the mood whether it’s uncertainty, uneasiness or the awkward feelings within any scene. Have you ever noticed it even more so during the therapist sessions? The limited colors and soft lighting reveal the mood of the film from this dark, uncertain, pale, and rather bleak mental lifestyle of the Prince of Wales as he progresses throughout the entire movie with his disability. The technique of the lighting design compliments the expression and tension of the prince’s thoughts and uneasy actions.
What also creates tension are the camera shots. The cinematographer was a genius for the sheer emotion he captured with this film. From the very beginning when the Prince came up to the microphone, you could feel the sudden phobia as if it was your own. As a viewer in that scene, it makes you feel isolated, judged and panicked. Not in the oh my god this isn’t happening way; more of like you’re public speaking classes where you would shake and your mind would go blank. You could feel that genuine fear and embarrassment. There is not one shot I saw in the film that didn’t have a purpose emotionally. Even when the Her Majesty came to visit Lionel, he was framed very close and dominant when he first met her. His house his rules. It’s even like that through his sessions with the Prince.
The overall techniques throughout the entirety of film fit its unique personality. The lighting, movement, angles, etc. all complimented each other. It set the mood, revealed the awkwardness, tension and the overall struggle and then finally triumph of the main character. I personally love this story because it has a genuine feel. I know it’s based on the real Prince of Wales, however, the director could’ve made him unrealistic and just heroic. But he didn’t. He made the prince vulnerable and then triumphant in a realistic way. And in a lot of cases made this man even more inspirational. I could watch this film multiple times in a day, while still be fascinated and moved while (admittedly) wanting to cry alongside him. I give this movie a 10/10.