I’ve told this story on here before on my review of Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross’ score to The Social Network, but I don’t mind repeating it. I bought the scores to both The King’s Speech and The Social Network because, after expecting The King’s Speech to win the Academy Award for Best Original Score and watching The Social Network win, I wanted to decide for myself which one was better. To my surprise, I enjoyed The Social Network‘s score more, but Desplat’s music here is still fantastic.
The beauty of this score is found in its simplicity. It doesn’t strive to wow the audience with loud brass or soaring strings but opts instead for quiet, peaceful melodies played on piano and strings. In fact, the whole album is like a piano solo with string accompaniment, which is different and refreshing for a film soundtrack.
The main theme, “The King’s Speech”, is light and bouncy, though not “bouncy” in the same sense as Thomas Newman’s Wall-E score; it’s a bouncy that feels authentic to the time period without feeling overly dated. In other words, it’s not a burden to listen to. At the end of the track, we lose the bouncy quality to a painful strain of music, representing “Bertie’s” shame regarding his speech disorder.
I’ve always said that Alexandre Desplat is the king of emotion in film scores; it’s certainly apparent in The King’s Speech. Tracks like “The King is Dead” and “Memories of Childhood” easily convey sadness and grief, while “The Threat of War” dispenses the same anxiety as does Colin Firth’s character in the film. While not composed by Desplat, the choice of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 – Mvmt. II for “Speaking Unto Nations” deftly exemplifies the building confidence that Firth’s character experiences while reading his speech.
Overall, while it may not be the revolutionary wild ride that Reznor/Ross’ score to The Social Network may be, the score to The King’s Speech is evidence enough to show why Desplat is one of the best composers in the business. His ability to match the tone and period of the film in his music and to convey even the most complex of emotions sets the standard for his peers.
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
- “Lionel and Bertie” 2:11
- “The King’s Speech” 3:55
- “My Kingdom, My Rules” 2:51
- “The King is Dead” 2:06
- “Memories of Childhood” 3:37
- “King George VI” 3:06
- “The Royal Household” 1:44
- “Queen Elizabeth” 3:35
- “Fear and Suspicion” 3:24
- “The Rehearsal” 1:43
- “The Threat of War” 3:56
- “Speaking Unto Nations (Beethoven Symphony No. 7 – II)” 5:03
- “Epilogue (Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor” – II)” 3:56
Total Length: app. 42 min.
P.S. – Read my review of the film here!