Analyze This!: “The King’s Speech”

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This past week (over spring break) I watched “The King’s Speech” with my friend Caitlin and her parents. Although the movie has been out for some time now, and it has gotten quite a lot of attention because of the many awards it’s received, I had still not seen it. (If you know me, this is no surprise. Somehow I always manage to miss good movies and end up watching them years later when people have stopped talking about how awesome they are, causing me to look ridiculous as I walk around making movie references to it years later. That’s how cool I am.)

I LOVED THIS MOVIE!!! With just one viewing it has easily made it on to my top five favorites list.

In case you are one of the three people remaining who hasn’t seen the film, it’s a historical drama (complete with tropes like “Family Disunion,” “Grew a Spine,” “Tears of Fear,” and “Your Secret’s Safe with Me”) about Price Albert’s struggle to overcome his speech impediment as he transitions into his new title of King George VI of England. Lionel Logue, a little known speech therapist, uses some unconventional techniques to help his royal client overcome this obstacle and ultimately the two become quite close. This summary sounds boring, but I assure you it is not! There is quite a lot of quick wit and situational humor (in typical British fashion) that pulls you into the story and makes you want to keep watching.

Here’s a movie overview if you still aren’t buying my sales pitch.

Another aspect of this movie that I really loved was how it was filmed. Even before I knew what to look for in a well made film, I could tell that it was really well done. The muted colors make you feel like you are in the historic period and the sparse lighting makes it seem like a documentary rather than a scripted movie. The acting is fantastic, with Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter portraying lead characters. The setting consists of just a handful of places with the main setting being Logue’s home/office. I found it really impressive that the director was able to bring so many different techniques to the filming of these scenes that I didn’t become bored with it and he was able to keep it new and interesting.

After reading Roger Ebert’s article “How to Read a Movie,” I picked up on some filming techniques that were utilized in making “The King’s Speech” that added to the overall plot and foster specific feelings from the audience. One technique was apparent in this scene when Prince Albert and Lionel first meet.

When analyzing the clip with the rule of thirds in mind, Lionel is on the right in a dominant position while Prince Albert is on the left in a weak position, which emphasizes the plot of the movie perfectly. When I looked back at some of the clips from the beginning of the movie, most of the scenes of Lionel and Price Albert are filmed in this way, while later scenes are the opposite reflecting the switch in power that occurs between these two characters.

Another scene that emphasizes the power struggle between these two main characters is when Prince Albert and his wife (Elizabeth) meet with Lionel to set the terms for Alberts treatment.

In this scene the camera is angled up toward Lionel, further emphasizing his position of power. Meanwhile,  the camera views Elizabeth and Prince Albert on the same level, suggesting their equal power in this situation. The camera films these two characters at eye level, perhaps trying to show that they are not as powerful as Lionel, but still relatable as everyday people (not as royalty), dealing with common-people’s problems.

I’m sure that there are many more scenes that can be dissected and analyized further to find the significance of the filming technique used, however, I think the most effective part of this film is that the used of these techniques are so subtle, the audience does not pick up on them. Next time I watch this movie, I hope I can separate myself from plot long enough to pick up on some more filming techniques!

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