Thursday, December 23, 2010


When I saw the first cut of the King’s Speech, I was struck by Tom Hooper’s incredible talent and his gift for using the best cinematic language for the storyline. The way he places the actors in the frame, Bertie on the edge, as if he were on the edge of reality, his use of “wide” and “fish-eye” lenses showing Bertie as a distorted man, the production design as well as a prodigious and very well-directed cast make his film a pure cinematic delight.

Now this was quite a challenge for me.
How would I be able to find a way through the film and enhance it?
A film in which a man is struggling to express himself in words, to show his emotions and relate his difficult childhood….a man who cannot speak. A man with long, very silent, moments.

I suggested to Tom that the music should mirror the fact that, when Bertie tries to speak he is “stuck”.
A theme based upon on one, repeated, single note; on and in a rhythm i.e., a pattern of a funeral march. It is a melody which tries desperately to evolve, to find a way out, like a bird with broken wings trying to fly. It is the theme we hear as Bertie tries futilely to deliver his speech at Wembley Stadium, when he shares his pain with his wife, and when he tries to delve into his sad memories during therapy.

But the score could not just be introspective.
The opening title shows a light, bittersweet, Mozart-esque mood; and, there again, it is a theme that struggles to find its own completion.
As the menace of war is surrounding the protagonists, the music gets more solemn and dark.
The moment of joy will only appear in the score when Bertie and Lionel finally reach a rapport during the rehearsal scene at Westminster Abbey.

To convey the sense of restrained emotion and to capture the sound of the period, we found in the archives of EMI, the very microphones which belonged to and were used exclusively by George V, George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary.

And we used them at Abbey Road Studios to record the orchestra. A very moving experience thinking that the very microphone in which King George VI delivered his speeches was right there in front of the podium from which I was conducting. It was also a very touching moment for the English musicians, as well, who were sending the sounds of their instruments through these very special microphones.


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