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The King’s Speech
  • Composed by Alexandre Desplat
  • Decca B0015064-02 / 2010 / 41:05

That great, undefinable quantity “Oscar buzz” surrounds The King’s Speech, which sees Colin Firth playing Great Britain’s monarch during the Second World War, George VI.  The King had a terrible speech impediment, which is the subject of this film; particularly his relationship with the Australian speech therapist he engaged to help with his problem.  Firth is hotly-tipped to win an Oscar for his role in the film; it would be unsurprising if Alexandre Desplat won one too, for his excellent music, which has already attracted the attention of most of the earlier award-giving bodies.  The composer’s career so far has not been short of quality music for quality films; this score is another delight.  Surprisingly light and airy, it’s actually one of the composer’s warmest efforts to date – those who accuse him of sometimes being too clinical and cold will have no grounds for such complaint here.

The graceful main theme, usually heard for solo piano, is classically beautiful and supremely elegant.  Beyond that, it’s simply so deft – there’s even a hint of playfulness.  It’s vintage Desplat, sure to become a large favourite amongst his fans.  There are several other ideas too – a clever, swirling, almost hypnotic style used for the darker moments, the composer successfully conveying the monarch’s sense of frustration.  Another, very warm theme accompanies the relationship between the two main characters.  A pair of magnificent Beethoven excerpts round out the album, which – in yet another particularly strong year for the composer – is probably Desplat’s most satisfying of the year.  Few, if any, modern film composers are able to bring such a light touch to such a serious film and make it work so well; fewer still are able to write music of such genuine warmth without succumbing to even the tiniest whiff of schmaltz.  Simply wonderful.  **** 1/2

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  1. Juanki (Reply) on Wednesday 22 December, 2010 at 16:19

    Excellent review James!! This score is superb and works extremely well on film. The Beethoven’s pieces are wonderful as well. Could I ask you what Desplat’s was your favourite this year? Here is hoping you can do Inception review soon.

  2. Michael (Reply) on Thursday 23 December, 2010 at 12:40

    I agree entirely with this review. I have not been a fan of Desplat and frequently criticise his work for all the usual reasons (no emotion, too cold, blah blah blah), but this is THE score to make me think otherwise. It is just excellent. It’s warm and beautiful. I’m glad I can finally get this kind of enjoyment from a Desplat score. Great review, I’m glad you gave it the credit it deserves.

  3. James Southall (Reply) on Thursday 23 December, 2010 at 18:27

    Thanks for the feedback! Juanki, I think it’s hard to pick a favourite from this year, which has been so strong for Desplat. OK, so it’s not Tamara Drewe, but all of The Ghost Writer, The Special Relsationship, Harry Potter and The King’s Speech are so strong. With a gun to my head I’d probably pick The King’s Speech. With a bun to my head I’d probably forget all about Desplat and eat the bun.

  4. Juanki (Reply) on Friday 24 December, 2010 at 10:24

    Nice statement!! Here is hoping you do these days some kind of reflexion about the film music of the year as you sometimes do. Have nice Christmas!

  5. john mansell (Reply) on Saturday 1 January, 2011 at 17:26

    thanks James was pondering on this one….now I will ponder no more…..sold.

  6. Debbie (Reply) on Tuesday 20 September, 2011 at 04:13

    Hi, I really enjoy these reviews and have been buying Desplats in descending order of stars. So far, have bought all the 5 star and 4.5 star ones, now pondering in which order to take on the 4 stars. I really like his quiet scores. In retrospect, were there any that you might have given say 4 and one quarter stars to?

    I thought that the write -up for Lust seemed very strong?