Biopics: That’s Entertainment (Pt. 2)

Yesterday, I wrote about the entertainment value of the biopic in opposition to its historical accuracy. Again, movies are like CliffsNotes next to the original story, do some research if learning or knowledge is your goal because Hollywood can (and will) exaggerate. For this blog, I’d like to dwell on the entertainment aspect of biographical films by discussing a couple of the reasons why I adore The King’s Speech (2010) based on its cinematic qualities, rather than its historical representation. If you have not seen the film, it follows an era in the life of King George VI or “Bertie” (Colin Firth) as he learns to manage his stutter, with the help of language therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), in preparation for radio broadcasts he must inevitably deliver.

One of the best aspects of the film is Alexandre Desplat’s scoring. I have written briefly about Desplat in the past and I continue to believe his score is the driving force of this film. Desplat’s score is both unassuming and powerful, perfectly matching the motivation Bertie needs, or appears to need, in order to muddle through the difficulties of being royal and struggling with a speech impediment  Again, you might be watching a semi-false rendering of a person’s life if…. there is music following a character’s actions, but no orchestra present. Music is key to the narrative of the film because Lionel uses it as a technique to show Bertie he is capable of delivering a speech eloquently. Without music and Desplat’s score, The King’s Speech might not have caught my interest as easily. Listen to the lightheartedness of the score as it contributes to the comedy of this scene:

The “Exercise” scene is a case example of the biopic entertaining its audiences based on cinematic qualities. The fluid camera contributes to the humour of the scene, as well as the editing. Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth do such a wonderful job in their roles, it’s hard to imagine the true story or events occurring in a different manner. But their primary goal, as actors, is to entertain audiences with as much accuracy as possible. I never knew Lionel or Bertie, but Rush and Firth have me convinced to feel sympathy for their characters and I believe that is the point of the biopic. The ability to learn life stories and take something positive away from them, even if the conclusion is grim (which is, thankfully, not the case for The King’s Speech).

The acting and scoring only skim the surface of The King’s Speech for me. I went the the theater three or four times to see it with various people because I loved it so much. I’m not alone in my adoration, Queen Elizabeth stated she was “moved” by her father’s story on the screen. So, if the Queen approves of the biopic… surely, it must be worthwhile.


Be sure to catch “On Story” tonight at 5:30 to learn more about the creation of films “based on a true story” from producers and directors! Until next time…


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