Monday, February 14, 2011

Bugger, bugger, bugger...

In “The King’s Speech”, Colin Firth plays King George the VI of Britain, who is plagued with a stammer. In this scene, we can use Aristotle’s system of argument (speech) and Aristotle’s theory as to why art is good.

            Aristotle believed that there were three different types of speech; deliberative, forensic and epideictic. Someone who is giving a deliberative speech is good at persuading their audience about what is going to happen in the future. A person who is giving a forensic speech appeals to the past and somehow relates it to what their argument is based on to give it merit. And lastly, a person giving an epideictic speech focuses on the present and appeals to their audiences ethos, pathos and logos; character, emotion and logic, respectively. In this short clip we see a moment in the film where the king is at another speech lesson with his therapist, played by Geoffrey Rush, and he starts throwing expletives left and right to get his anger out and calm his nerves so he can focus on improving his speech.

            For those who haven’t seen the film, or don’t know anything about it, Geoffrey Rush’s character is a commoner, and Colin Firth’s character is the king. And we all know that kings do not interact with commoners, let alone befriend them and ask them for their help. Geoffrey Rush makes a wonderful argument when the king, begrudgingly, comes to him for help. He acts all posh and upper class and like, well, royalty and Geoffrey Rush doesn’t take any of it. He treats the king like any other person, or patient; like family, like a friend. The king, at first is outraged but as the film progresses the two grow a special bond. In this scene, Geoffrey Rush is appealing to the king’s ethos, pathos and logos while giving an epideictic speech. He acts according to the king’s character (ethos) using words and mannerisms that will appeal to him and make him break down his mental walls: that he is here to help him get better at his speech. Rush also uses a tone of voice and tells simple stories and analogies that appeal to the king’s emotional state of mind/character; his pathos. To appeal to his logos, Rush finds ways to be strict with the king but also still friendly so as to not make the king overly upset and turn away, by making him realize that his tantrums will not help him help his improvement in his speech.

            Aristotle also believed that art was very important and important for the people. He believed that art was cathartic, creating a type of cleansing that lead to learning something about one’s self. In an earlier part of the film, (sadly I could not find the clip) Rush makes the king put on a pair of headphones and turns the music up very loud. He tells the king to recite a certain passage from Hamlet while the music is playing. The king complies, again begrudgingly, and begins to recite although not being able to hear himself at all. After becoming exasperated with the exercise he storms off home. Later, he plays the recording from that exercise and hears himself recite the passage with no hint of stammer. As he sits on the couch, he begins to cry as he realizes that there is hope for him after all, the he indeed does have a voice and the capability of speaking without stammering. This is a cathartic moment for the king where he learns something about himself that he didn’t know before, thus proving Aristotle’s belief that art is good for man.

Word Count: 609
"The King's Speech: The F Word Scene." Dir. Tom Hooper. Perf. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush. 02 February 2011. YouTube. 14 Feb. 2011.

No comments:

Post a Comment