The King's Speech
Directed by Tom Hooper
It's easy to distinguish your favorite films. They are films you return to again and again, films that make you feel sentimental whenever you think of them, films that shape your artistic eye. I have a few of those films that have greatly impacted my personal taste and aesthetic interests, but none more so than Tom Hooper's The King's Speech.
Tom Hooper's critically acclaimed film came out in 2010 - I was a freshman in high school and my taste and appreciation for film art was truly being to form. I remember watching Hooper's film over and over again, completely immersed in the beautiful and romantic world he had created. I credit Hooper's film for igniting this fiery desire for highbrow costume dramas in me, and still to this day I watch The King's Speech with a fondness for its gorgeous style and idyllic setting.
There are so many aspects of Hooper's film that catches my fancy - the underdog protagonist, the highbrow narrative, the stunning cinematography, extraordinary performance. Yet what continues to draw me back to The King's Speech time and time again is Hooper's immaculate directing and styling of the film.
Tom Hooper is a very visual director; he tells this stories not just through words and action but with imagery. He treats his films like a painter treats his canvases. He thoughtfully composes each frame like an artist who carefully executes each stroke of his paint brush. Every image in his films is stunning - it's as if you could pause the film at any moment and create a work of art from that still. Each frame is like a painting. The beauty and classical style of Hooper’s films create a rosy aura of romanticism around his films. Hooper's films are romantic films, not so much that they are filled with physical romance and lust, but that they embody beauty. The artsy of the film captures a romantic spirit; you fall in love with the movie.
When I think about The King's Speech, one image remains burned in my mind - King George sat on Lionel's couch in his office, the frame composed so George is in the lower third, and a stark, bare, distressed wall dominating the frame behind him. It’s a stunning image, beautifully composed, beautifully colored, beautifully presented. But what makes Hooper a masterful director is he is able to tell the film’s story through this beautiful image. The imagery in Hooper’s film serves a purpose beyond just making the film look great. To me, this image symbolizes the entire film: Britain's King, the person who represents an institution of strength, solidarity, and leadership, is completely engulfed by bleakness and destruction, both by his own personal impairment and the impending war facing the nation. You can see the weight of a torn world bearing down on him. It's a powerful image that represents so much. This is what I love most about Tom Hooper's work. It is filled with beautiful moments like this that captures the essence of the film in a simple frame that will be gone in a second.
Hooper continues to prove his artistic prowess by building the world of The King's Speech through other means, one, in particular, being his use of color and textures throughout the film. His careful selection of colors and textures help to create the immersive atmosphere and brings to life a world where royalty mixes with the bleakness of a country on the verge of war. Hooper's use of color in this film is something that has always remained with throughout the years. The color pallet not only creates a beautiful image on the screen, but it also helps to build an atmosphere of a country, still trying to recover from the previous war, on the brink of another deadly war. Hooper's use of imagery in this film builds the world of the film far beyond the narrative.
The King's Speech completely embodies the romantic image. It's a beautifully crafted costume drama about the strength of an individual to rise up and lead a nation. That's about as romantic as they come. But what makes The King's Speech special is Tom Hooper's masterful ability to create emotion and drama just from a simple image. The stunning beauty and artistry of The King’s Speech has molded and fine-tuned my artistic tastes and appreciation for the true beauty of films, making Tom Hooper’s one of my favorite and most formative films.