In shows a large gun-metal grey microphone
In the film The King’s Speech directed by TomHooper, the idea of what it means to have a voice is strongly shown in theopening and closing scene through the skilful use of cinematography anddialogue. These techniques have been used effectively to show the mental andemotional journey of King George VI’s (or Bertie’s) battle against his speechimpediment after he is forced into the role of King when his elder brotherDavid abdicated from the royal position. I fully agree that Hooper hassuccessfully portrayed Bertie’s struggles in the opening and closing scenes,making The King’s Speech a great andinspiring film. In the openingscene of the film, a series of camera angles including close ups, a low shotand a POV shot shows a large gun-metal grey microphone shaped like a bullet, anintimidating shape. Emphasis has been put on the microphone through the use ofcamera angles to portray the idea that it is Bertie’s nemesis; it is a symbolof what Bertie will have to face and overcome, as if he does not how can he bea credible King of England? Through the threatening way the microphone isportrayed, the viewer understands that the microphone is Bertie’s enemy.
He isnot confident speaking into it as it accentuates his stutter, this discouraginghim from truly ‘finding his voice’- he is unable to get his voice across whenspeaking into a microphone. Before Bertie gives his inauguration speech to anenormous audience at Wembley stadium, a medium long-shot looks down on him, heappears to be cowering at the bottom of the stairs, symbolising that he’s goingto have to climb his way up and conquer his obstacles both physically andmetaphorically if he is to ‘find his voice’. With Bertie are three dignitariesdressed in black, looking very grave and standing in front of a doorway with asign above it saying ‘WAY OUT.” The men are dressed like they’re going to afuneral, giving the idea that the Duke is going to his ‘death’ and they’reblocking the only way out so there’s nowhere to hide. As the future king walksup the stairs, a high-shot shows him looking vulnerable and weak.
Once he hasreached the microphone, a wide POV shot pans the expansive audience in themisty Wembley stadium, and the crowd becomes awkward and uncomfortable as thePrince of York struggles to start his speech. One of the guard’s horseswhinny’s as if mocking Bertie- it seems to be saying “I can speak but youcan’t”. This furthers Bertie’s self-doubt and he continues to stutter andstammer throughout the speech, much to the dismay of his wife and the audience.I wholeheartedly agree that The King’sSpeech hinges on the excellent presentation of one or two key scenes, as theopening scene gives the viewers insight into how intimidating and daunting itis for Bertie to speak in public, especially when he knows it will end badly beforehe’s even started; allowing the viewer to sympathize with him. The opening sceneof The King’s Speech clearlyaddresses the severity of Prince Albert’s stutter. As the future king, it isvitally important that Bertie is able to speak clearly, as England embraces thenew age of wireless media. Having had many speech therapists in the past withno success, Lionel Logue is hired; an unorthodox speech therapist fromAustralia who had previously helped soldiers with their own speech impedimentsafter the Great War.
Lionel is pivotal in the success of Bertie both being ableto ‘find his voice’ and regain his confidence after years of self- doubt. Theopening scene sets the theme of what it means to have a voice as the audiencesees Bertie struggling with his own, under difficult circumstances. A finalclose up is shown of Bertie looking defeated as he stares out into the audienceof Wembley Stadium having failed to start his speech clearly and eloquently.The viewers can understand from the very first scene that Bertie has run out ofcourage and confidence to ‘share his voice’, thus making for a great andinspiring film. On the other hand,in the closing scene, the viewers see a medium-close up of Bertie, now KingGeorge VI, with a low viewpoint so he appears larger, more confident and morein control. On the way to the radio box, a medium shot shows the King standingin a comfortable circle with the dignitaries, his back to the camera so we cansee his relationship with them; equals.
This contrasts to the opening scenewhere the dignitaries blocked him and looked down on him- now we can see thenobility’s body language is more relaxed and they look more encouraging. AsBertie makes his way to the radio box, Tom Hooper has effectively added in theencouraging yap of a corgi to link the opening and closing scenes together, butalso to contrast against the mocking whinny of the soldier’s horse. As Bertiewalks down the hallway, a POV shot on a hand held camera links us back to theopening scene, except this time round the viewers can sense that Bertie is nowstronger, more confident and ready, juxtaposing with the opposite emotions theviewers felt with Bertie in the opening scene- uneasy and nervous. A final close upshows Bertie standing front-on, with his nemesis the microphone covering hismouth. However, this time around Bertie looks at it square on, as he is nowmore confident.
As the countdown begins for his broadcast, Bertie begins tolook nervous and doubtful. Nonetheless, dialogue from Lionel saying “forgeteverything else, say it to me. Say it to me as a friend” reassures Bertie andhe gives his speech fluently and eloquently. As he is speaking, all fears ofthe microphone and his self-doubt seems to dissolve as he realises he can infact speak and he has finally found his voice. Flicking shots of families andcitizens are shown as they are when they are receiving the speech through theirradios. We are momentarily taken out of the radio room into the lives of thepeople listening, citizens from all walks life receiving the sombre news but atthe same time being comforted by the strong words of their king. I agree to agreat extent that The King’s Speech washinged on the successful presentation of the opening and closing scene, as theviewers were exposed to the contrast between the two scenes; the opening whereBertie was intimidated, cowering and lacking self- confidence, to the closingscene where the new King George VI is in control, proud and has dissolved allhis self-doubt.
I believe that having seen Bertie’s mental and emotionaljourney through the successful opening and closing scenes has made the moviegreat and very inspiring. In conclusion, theopening and closing scenes of The King’sSpeech have been skilfully used to present the idea of what it means tohave a voice- and to show the battle King George VI fought to find his. TomHooper has used the two scenes to link cinematography and dialogue together totake the viewers on a journey to realise what it means to have a voice, and howit can help you perceive the world in a different way. Overall, with thepivotal help of Lionel Logue, Bertie was able to successfully manage and workthrough both his self-doubt and his fear of speaking, and was successfully ableto rise to the challenge of being a credible king.
We can thus see that The King’s Speech was indeed hinged onthe success of the opening and closing scene, and as a result was a great film.