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In shows a large gun-metal grey microphone

In the film The King’s Speech directed by Tom
Hooper, the idea of what it means to have a voice is strongly shown in the
opening and closing scene through the skilful use of cinematography and
dialogue. These techniques have been used effectively to show the mental and
emotional journey of King George VI’s (or Bertie’s) battle against his speech
impediment after he is forced into the role of King when his elder brother
David abdicated from the royal position. I fully agree that Hooper has
successfully portrayed Bertie’s struggles in the opening and closing scenes,
making The King’s Speech a great and
inspiring film.

 

In the opening
scene of the film, a series of camera angles including close ups, a low shot
and a POV shot shows a large gun-metal grey microphone shaped like a bullet, an
intimidating shape. Emphasis has been put on the microphone through the use of
camera angles to portray the idea that it is Bertie’s nemesis; it is a symbol
of what Bertie will have to face and overcome, as if he does not how can he be
a credible King of England? Through the threatening way the microphone is
portrayed, the viewer understands that the microphone is Bertie’s enemy. He is
not confident speaking into it as it accentuates his stutter, this discouraging
him from truly ‘finding his voice’- he is unable to get his voice across when
speaking into a microphone. Before Bertie gives his inauguration speech to an
enormous audience at Wembley stadium, a medium long-shot looks down on him, he
appears to be cowering at the bottom of the stairs, symbolising that he’s going
to have to climb his way up and conquer his obstacles both physically and
metaphorically if he is to ‘find his voice’. With Bertie are three dignitaries
dressed in black, looking very grave and standing in front of a doorway with a
sign above it saying ‘WAY OUT.” The men are dressed like they’re going to a
funeral, giving the idea that the Duke is going to his ‘death’ and they’re
blocking the only way out so there’s nowhere to hide. As the future king walks
up the stairs, a high-shot shows him looking vulnerable and weak. Once he has
reached the microphone, a wide POV shot pans the expansive audience in the
misty Wembley stadium, and the crowd becomes awkward and uncomfortable as the
Prince of York struggles to start his speech. One of the guard’s horses
whinny’s as if mocking Bertie- it seems to be saying “I can speak but you
can’t”. This furthers Bertie’s self-doubt and he continues to stutter and
stammer throughout the speech, much to the dismay of his wife and the audience.
I wholeheartedly agree that The King’s
Speech hinges on the excellent presentation of one or two key scenes, as the
opening scene gives the viewers insight into how intimidating and daunting it
is for Bertie to speak in public, especially when he knows it will end badly before
he’s even started; allowing the viewer to sympathize with him.

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The opening scene
of The King’s Speech clearly
addresses the severity of Prince Albert’s stutter. As the future king, it is
vitally important that Bertie is able to speak clearly, as England embraces the
new age of wireless media. Having had many speech therapists in the past with
no success, Lionel Logue is hired; an unorthodox speech therapist from
Australia who had previously helped soldiers with their own speech impediments
after the Great War. Lionel is pivotal in the success of Bertie both being able
to ‘find his voice’ and regain his confidence after years of self- doubt. The
opening scene sets the theme of what it means to have a voice as the audience
sees Bertie struggling with his own, under difficult circumstances. A final
close up is shown of Bertie looking defeated as he stares out into the audience
of 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 of
courage and confidence to ‘share his voice’, thus making for a great and
inspiring film.

 

On the other hand,
in the closing scene, the viewers see a medium-close up of Bertie, now King
George VI, with a low viewpoint so he appears larger, more confident and more
in control. On the way to the radio box, a medium shot shows the King standing
in a comfortable circle with the dignitaries, his back to the camera so we can
see his relationship with them; equals. This contrasts to the opening scene
where the dignitaries blocked him and looked down on him- now we can see the
nobility’s body language is more relaxed and they look more encouraging. As
Bertie makes his way to the radio box, Tom Hooper has effectively added in the
encouraging yap of a corgi to link the opening and closing scenes together, but
also to contrast against the mocking whinny of the soldier’s horse. As Bertie
walks down the hallway, a POV shot on a hand held camera links us back to the
opening scene, except this time round the viewers can sense that Bertie is now
stronger, more confident and ready, juxtaposing with the opposite emotions the
viewers felt with Bertie in the opening scene- uneasy and nervous.

 

A final close up
shows Bertie standing front-on, with his nemesis the microphone covering his
mouth. However, this time around Bertie looks at it square on, as he is now
more confident. As the countdown begins for his broadcast, Bertie begins to
look nervous and doubtful. Nonetheless, dialogue from Lionel saying “forget
everything else, say it to me. Say it to me as a friend” reassures Bertie and
he gives his speech fluently and eloquently. As he is speaking, all fears of
the microphone and his self-doubt seems to dissolve as he realises he can in
fact speak and he has finally found his voice. Flicking shots of families and
citizens are shown as they are when they are receiving the speech through their
radios. We are momentarily taken out of the radio room into the lives of the
people listening, citizens from all walks life receiving the sombre news but at
the same time being comforted by the strong words of their king. I agree to a
great extent that The King’s Speech was
hinged on the successful presentation of the opening and closing scene, as the
viewers were exposed to the contrast between the two scenes; the opening where
Bertie was intimidated, cowering and lacking self- confidence, to the closing
scene where the new King George VI is in control, proud and has dissolved all
his self-doubt. I believe that having seen Bertie’s mental and emotional
journey through the successful opening and closing scenes has made the movie
great and very inspiring.

 

In conclusion, the
opening and closing scenes of The King’s
Speech have been skilfully used to present the idea of what it means to
have a voice- and to show the battle King George VI fought to find his. Tom
Hooper has used the two scenes to link cinematography and dialogue together to
take the viewers on a journey to realise what it means to have a voice, and how
it can help you perceive the world in a different way. Overall, with the
pivotal help of Lionel Logue, Bertie was able to successfully manage and work
through both his self-doubt and his fear of speaking, and was successfully able
to rise to the challenge of being a credible king. We can thus see that The King’s Speech was indeed hinged on
the success of the opening and closing scene, and as a result was a great film. 

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