Killer Opening Shots – ‘The King’s Speech’



“The King’s Speech” (2010, dir. Tom Hooper, photographed by Danny Cohen, BSC) opens with an image that is a visual metaphor for George’s central obstacle: intimidation and anxiety at his lack of speaking ability, represented by the microphone in this opening shot.

The low angle combined with the heavy distortion of the shot (created by the use of a wide angle lens with a close subject), contorts the curves of the microphone, making it seem as if it’s leaning forward into the camera, giving it a domineering and imposing presence.

The lens choice also accentuates the size of the microphone relative to the room.  It visually fills the entire graphic space from ceiling to floor, making it an massive and pervasive presence that can’t be ignored or escaped. Adding to this, the shot is composed such that the perspective lines of the room converge on the microphone, demanding the full graphic attention of the frame.

It’s worth noting that this shot is really a triumph of lens selection. The key elements that make this shot an effective storytelling device (the distortion and graphical arrangement of the microphone relative to the architecture) would have been impossible on a longer lens.




© 2012 Benjamin Kantor. All rights reserved.