The King’s Speech

There are only one or two television shows that we have been watching with any consistency this fall.  That means we have been getting full use of our Netflix account, with DVDs in the mail and Internet streaming.  Last night we watched the biographical, drama The King’s Speech starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter and directed by Tom Hooper.  The 2010 movie was nominated for twelve Academy Awards and won four.  Forty-six other organizations such as the Golden Globes, the British Independent Film Award and the Directors Guild of America, nominated the movie for ninety-six additional awards.  The cast and crew took home awards for sixty-eight of the nominations.

The movie tells the tale of the Duke of York, played by Colin Firth, and his effort to rid himself of chronic stammering he has suffered since the age of five.  The Prince hoped for a life of obscurity as the second in line to be King of England.  He was, however, made King, when his older brother David abdicates the throne in 1936 to marry an American divorcee.  The new King George VI and his speech difficulties are thrust into the limelight by the onset of World War II and a new device called radio.  The King is aided by the unorthodox speech therapist Lionel Logue, played with style by Rush.

If you have seen the movie you know it is a great story of triumph over adversity.  If you haven’t seen it, it is worth renting.  The movie is 118 minutes long and rated “R” for a couple short scenes with raunchy language used as part of the therapy.

As I watched it the second time, I couldn’t help but notice actors placed in scenes using the compositional “rule of thirds.”  Performers were often “framed” by a room entryway or a hallway.  There was also good use of “lines” to draw the viewer’s eye to the actor delivering dialog, especially in scenes before the coronation in Westminster Abbey.  But what intrigued me the most was the speech therapist’s office wall and the wallpaper in his home.  Many scenes were blocked using the two walls as background and a great example of “patterns.”

In his new book Chasing the Light: Improving Your Photography with Available Light, freelance photographer, podcaster and now author; Ibarionex Perello identifies what he calls the Five Visual Draws.  “What people notice in a photograph is largely controlled by five factors.” Perello writes.  “Brightness.  Contrast.  Saturation.  Sharpness.  Pattern.  Each of these qualities influence where a viewer looks.”

“Pattern serves as a strong visual draw, which makes it an important element not only for controlling the viewer experience but also for the subject matter of a photograph.”  Perello goes on to state that a visual rhythm in a photograph is created by repeating lines, shapes, colors and textures.  The rhythm works whether the pattern is the main focus or the secondary element of a photograph.

Since reading Chasing the Light, I have been thinking more about “patterns.”  I try to work “patterns” into the images when I can and look for them around me.  As I watched The King’s Speech for the second time, the background patterns in the movie -that I didn’t see when I watched the movie in a theater- jumped out at me.  Sure, I look for brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness in my photos.  I also search backgrounds for leading lines, ways to use the rule of thirds and wonder if my image would benefit if I framed a shot differently.  But now I have this pattern thing is stuck in my head too.

If I remember what Ibarionex Perello wrote and keep in mind the value of repeating line, shapes, colors and textures as try to pull together a good shot, I think my photography will get better.  And so, I recommend this movie, not only as great film and story, but also as an aid to photographers looking for ways to enhance their visual style.

December 19, 2011


About Dan Welihan

Photographer, teacher

Posted on December 19, 2011, in Movies. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The King’s Speech.

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