Sunday, July 7, 2013

Period Drama Challenge Review #6: The King's Speech (2010)

I have finally seen The King's Speech (2010)!  I've wanted to see this movie ever since it came out.  It feels satisfying now that I've seen it after all that time.

The King's Speech (2011).
This may end up being a short review, because I don't have very much to say about The King's Speech.  It was such a good movie, I was left without words.  All I can really say is it was a beautifully done movie, and one that I will watch again and again.  Colin Firth was brilliant in his role as King Bertie.  I think it was one of his best performances as an actor, but then he's always good whatever role he's in.  Helena Bonham Carter did a wonderful job in her role as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mum, portraying her love and support for Bertie.  Everyone was wonderful in this movie.

The acting, the music, the costumes, the cinematography, and everything that went into making this movie was perfection.  I can only think of one fault with this movie, which was that Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter were a little too old to play King Bertie and Queen Elizabeth at the time this movie was set.  But otherwise, they were perfect for the roles and I wouldn't have liked Bertie or Elizabeth to have been played by anyone else.  Jennifer Ehle was also in this film; she played Lionel's wife, Mrs. Logue.  When she and Bertie met, it felt like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet were meeting again in another life!

I really loved the visual style and artistic cinematography of this film, and how consistent it was throughout.  It was beautiful from start to finish.  I am a lover of cool and pastel color themes, which I think were undoubtedly present in The King's Speech.

Something interesting that I wish to point out, is that many of the scenes which showed Bertie or Lionel during their conversations, showed them in the lower corner of one side of the frame, therefore leaving a lot of negative space.  My impression was that this was an artistic and stylistic touch, which kept occurring in the film:

The picture above shows the humanity of Bertie, the Duke of York, which is a very prominent theme in The King's Speech.  The way he is in the corner, surrounded and seemingly overshadowed by the background and the space around him, and the fact that he is not at the center of the frame, to me shows that he is an ordinary man, like any other, trapped in an unfortunate situation, which he has not been prepared for.  Another of the many themes in The King's Speech is the strength within us to rise to a duty, and perhaps that anyone can be a king or a queen if they find the strength and character within themselves to do so.  The three pictures below show some examples of people at one side of the frame:

In the pictures below, you can see that there are mostly cool and subdued colors, to match the mood of the story.  In the first picture below, there is a lot of gray, off-white, and steely colors in the buildings and the sky.  The nature of duty is cold and grim, like the colors in this film, and there's no way out of it.

I found the pictures above and below to be particularly symbolic and artistic.  In the picture above, the camera angle is so sharp and steep, as though to emphasize how intimidating the buildings are to the viewer.  These are public buildings, symbolic of the state.  Bertie feels afraid that he will not be able to execute the call of duty, but he knows what he must do, and during the course of the movie, he begins to rise to the occasion.  The significance of what is going on in the movie frames is mirrored in Colin's face.  In the frame below, he has found the strength to stand up straight and accept his duty, although he is in no doubt about how hard it will be.  He takes his place in the row of hedges, straight and tall - no shirking.  He's like another peg in the wheel; he knows he must do his part in order to fulfill his particular public service.  We can see that realization expressed in Colin's eyes.

Below, in a frame from earlier in the film, Bertie is walking through the thick fog.  He has not yet found the resolution and clarity he needs to face his destiny.

The King's Speech had a lot of emotion and a lot of heart, which I really appreciated.  It was touching and moving, and made an emotional connection with viewers.  My favorite scene, and in my opinion, the best scene of the whole movie, was when Bertie turned around to see Lionel Logue (played brilliantly by Geoffrey Rush) sitting in Edward the Confessor's chair.  They had come to Westminster Abbey to practice Bertie's speech.  One of the reasons this scene is so great is because it was Bertie's psychological breaking point.  It is the point when he fully realized that he is a king, and that he is capable and strong enough to deliver that speech.  Lionel understood him psychologically and knew this, hence the reason he had sat in that chair.  He knew it would anger Bertie, and he knew that by evoking a strong emotional response in Bertie, he might be able to touch a deep place in Bertie's psyche, which he had been trying to reach.  He had wanted Bertie to realize that he has what it takes.

As a warning, there are a lot of curse words in this movie, which is why it has an R rating.  Ostensibly, the reasoning behind the cursing is that it is a therapeutic attempt by Mr. Logue to release the inhibition that lies behind Bertie's speech problem.  Bertie has been repressed since childhood by a domineering father.  He is a shy boy who has been overshadowed by his charismatic and confident older brother, Edward.  The truth behind the swearing has probably more to do with popular culture, and the film industry, which would find it an anathema to make a movie free of obscenity of one kind or another.  Nevertheless, I loved this film very much.  It's a brilliant movie that will be remembered through the ages for the amazing performances delivered by all of the actors and actresses.

And, because Helena Bonham-Carter is so cool, I'm just going to leave her acceptance speech for winning best supporting actress for her role as Queen Elizabeth in The King's Speech right up there.  I'll also leave Colin Firth's acceptance speech for winning best actor for his role in The King's Speech here:                    


  1. I love how you picked up on the awesome cinematography in this! I noticed more overt things like the towering buildings and fog, but I never noticed the off-center shots -- very cool observation.

    I love how, when Mrs, Logue first meets Bertie, she says something like, "Oh, it's you!" Just felt like a little touch added in for P&P95 fans, and so sweet :-)

    1. Thanks! The King's Speech definitely had awesome cinematography. I think Mrs. Logue's interaction with Bertie was one of the best parts. :) Trust me, I was fangirling.