Blue’s Beats #7 – “The King’s Speech”

Blue’s Beats is a new blog series where we break down various nominated feature screenplays by identifying and discussing their important beats.

 

Today we’ll be taking a look at the 2010 British historical drama The King’s Speech, written by David Seidler and directed by Tom Hooper. The film won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

To view a .pdf of the screenplay, click here

PLOT SUMMARY

On the brink of World War II, the British monarch, Edward VIII abdicates the English throne in order to be wed to American socialite Wallis Simpson. As the shadow of world-wide conflict draws ever closer, his Edward’s brother Albert assumes the throne, necessitating cooperation with an Australian speech therapist in an attempt to redress his persistent stammer.

INCITING INCIDENT

(Pages 1-10) The film opens with our protagonist, Prince Albert, as he embarrassingly stammers through the closing address at the British Empire Exhibition of 1925. In light of his public humiliation, Albert’s wife Elizabeth convinces him to begin working with a speech therapist whose abrasive personality clashes with the Prince’s refined and regal sensibilities.

PLOT POINT ONE

(Pages 26-30) The first major plot point arises with Edward’s abdication of the throne of England. With the Nazis gaining power in Germany, King George demands that Albert prepare to assume the throne, starting with the recitation of his father’s speech, the Royal Christmas Message.

MIDPOINT

(Pages 50-55) As the Albert and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue, begin to strengthen their bonds of friendship, King George finally kicks it, prompting a crisis of sorts when Edward insists on marrying. However, when Albert points out that Edward—as the head of the Church of England—couldn’t legally marry Wallis Simpson, Edward flies into a rage, insulting and bullying Albert in a stark and hard-to-watch reflection of his traumatizing childhood.

 

PLOT POINT TWO

(Pages 72-76) As Albert prepares for his coronation, he’s seemingly overcome with inadequacy, frustration, and despair. Believing himself unworthy and unfit for the throne, he claims, in a fit of panic, that Logue had willfully led him astray and deceived him, on account of his lack of qualifications. Undeterred, Logue tries to shift Albert’s perspective by trivializing the trappings of royalty, exposing them as hollow superficiality and stripping them of the somber gravitas that is paralyzing Albert with fear.

CRISIS AND CLIMAX

(Pages 82-87) The crises mounts after Albert’s coronation, when the Hitler and the Nazis make clear their intentions for war. As Winston Churchill assumes the position of Prime Minister, Albert must address the nation as the new king and deliver the grim news to his subjects. In the moments lending up to the now-famous address, Logue gives Alber some last-minute advice and council. The speech, as history can tell us, was a great success and marks the culmination of audience’s emotional investment.

DENOUEMENT

(Pages 87-90) As far as falling action is concerned, there really isn’t any. Albert—King George VI as he is formally known—receives congratulations from his royal entourage, then steps out onto a balcony of Buckingham Palace to greet the public. A short sequence of title cards follows, summarizing the strong bonds of friendship between King George and Lionel Logue.

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