This pack contains a photocopiable Student's Guide and a Teacher's Commentary

In the Student's Guide the film is segmented into units of 10-15 minutes duration. This facilitates work in the normal class period. There is a series of questions for each sequence that guides the viewing of the students and encourage them to keep a personal Response Journal.

The Teacher's Commentary is a well researched separate booklet which covers issues raised in the guide.

Each pack is priced @ € 35.00, postage free. Titles are shipped on receipt of payment. Delivery is by Standard Post: next-day delivery in Ireland, and 2-10 days for international orders.

Extract from Teacher's Commentary​

SEQUENCE 1         THE DUKE’S SPEECH I
(DVD Chapter 1: 8 mins)
Let the film roll until Elizabeth reaches Harley Street
 
The opening title card informs us that King George V reigns over Britain and its Empire which contains one quarter of the world’s population. He has asked his second son, the Duke of York, to deliver his closing speech at the Empire Exhibition. The year is 1925. The film opens with a close-up shot of a microphone which fills half the frame. The background is slightly out of focus adding emphasis to this prop. It looks like a bomb or a torpedo. This impression is strengthened by the next shot which reverses the angle. The panelled background is bright, colour co-ordinated and modern looking (for its time). A piano theme plays on the soundtrack. The final shot before the film’s title appears places the microphone in the middle of the frame. The fact that it occupies so much of the composition gives it an importance far in excess of its actual size in the set itself. The film’s title appears and the font changes to typescript. The microphone is finally presented in realistic proportion relative to its context. It sits on a highly polished table along with some paper on a pad, a set of headphones, a stopwatch and a red warning lamp. A chair matching the decor of the chamber awaits an occupant. A tall plant is showcased in the wall above the chair. Setting and soundtrack combine to suggest an environment of sophisticated and restrained modernity.
 
There is a cut to a close-up of a typed sheet of paper grasped by a gloved hand. A big close-up of the face of a man reading the typescript gives the impression of nervousness. A medium shot shows us that he is dressed in a black overcoat with a matching top hat. He is accompanied by a lady who links his arm protectively. He stands against a plain white painted block wall. He is at the bottom of a set of steps. This must be the Duke referred to in the card that opened the film, in his hand the typed pages of the King’s speech. This realisation may strike the audience as something of an anti-climax: the impression we have formed of this man from the visual track does not fit with that of  the audio track: can this be a member of the family that rules over a quarter of the world’s population? The previous setting would have better suited Royalty. The fur coat and top hat seem out of place here. The piano theme from the opening shots continues but a plaintive note might have entered the music as we watch this man who has his back to the wall and seems more than a little anxious as he goes over his typed speech at the foot of the steps in this plainest of environments. The clergyman and men in waiting who stand under the WAY OUT sign look a little worried.
 
The cross-cutting continues as we go back to the first setting, the studio. Again the microphone looms large in the frame. Two men enter from left and right. One of them carries a silver tray. The man in the formal dress suit takes a glass from the tray and proceeds to gargle his throat. A cut to a close-up of his face as he does this exaggerates the action and renders it amusingly ironic: he is so full of his own self importance. The musical theme stops and lets the sound of the gargling fill the air. Normality, as it were, is resumed when the the man spits into a gold pot that sits on the silver tray and the music continues. A silver spray container is also waiting on the tray. The man cleans his lips with a napkin. This man in the formal dress suit is king in this realm. He is attended by a footman and is served on a silver platter. The microphone is again in sharp focus and the suggestion is that this man is preparing to approach it and read the contents of the sheets of paper that rest on the table. His instrument is his voice and he tends it regally.
 
The identity of the man at the bottom of the steps is confirmed when he is addressed as “Your Royal Highness.” He looks upwards. He is presented to us in big close-up which shows clearly the sense of dread in his eyes at the arduousness of the task that faces him. The Duke and the radio announcer are making their preparations, each in their own way: the one anxiously scanning the contents of his typewritten page, the other expertly attending to his vocal organs. A man comes down the stairs and advises the Duke to let the microphone do the work. The close-up of the latter does nothing to reassure the audience that he believes himself capable of achieving this. The clergyman tries to assure him that all will be well.
 
Meanwhile the radio announcer expertly judges his distance from the microphone and proceeds with his warm-up routine. Finally he purses his lips. The editing ironically points up the differences in the preparations of the two men with a matching cut to another pair of pursed lips. One man is performing yet another of his limbering up exercises, the other is being kissed by his attentive lady. “Time to go!” she tells the Duke. The close-up camerawork increases the tenderness of the moment.
 
The red warning light comes on and the announcer is in his element. A wide angle shot of the studio presents him introducing the BBC programme that will cover the closing speech of the Empire Exhibition. The camera tracks in slowly. In Wembley the camera tracks backwards ahead of the Duke, looking down on him as he climbs the steps. The announcer continues setting the scene for his global radio audience. Outside Wembley stadium the buildings are shrouded in a light mist. When the Duke is told about the three flashes the camera zooms in on his anxious face and another musical theme commences. Camerawork and musical score are positioning the audience to empathise with his anxiety. We learn that the King made his first speech on the radio at the opening of the Empire exhibition. He was followed by the Prince of Wales at the end of the first season. Now it is the turn of the Duke of York to speak for the first time on the “wireless”. The extent of the global audience is emphasised by the camera as it pans across gauges that show the names of various outposts of the Empire. The final shot of the announcer is tinted with the steady red light that signifies that he is on air.
 
The hesitant musical theme continues as the Duke climbs the steps. It contrasts with the fluid melody that opened the narrative. A reverse shot shows the microphone that awaits him. The extreme low angle of this shot suggests that it is no longer third person point of view. The editing is positioning the audience to feel for the Duke as he takes what, for him, are the last steps of an arduous climb. The subjective point of view shot continues as the camera tracks towards the microphone and the red light beside it becomes more obvious in the composition. The music almost grinds to a halt and the high sustained strings suggest the tautness of the Duke’s nerves. A reverse angle shot shows him in front of the microphone which occupies a large part of the frame. The number 2 looms large in the background recalling the two previous royal speeches that have been delivered at this exhibition. A big close-up of the Duke and the microphone present him as he looks for the three flashes and the steady red glow. The editing presents a reverse angle point of view shot of the blinking light. The music matches the flashing and finally stops on the steady red glow, leaving the silence which becomes agonising. As the Duke tries to get his first word out a horse neighs. The stadium is covered in a grey mist. Shots of the announcer and the technicians in the BBC control room are inserted. The high pitched strings come back onto the soundtrack and will play for the remainder of the scene. They suggest fraught nerves.
 
 We cut to a shot of the crowd looking with concern at the Duke who eventually gets started. The sparse musical theme on the strings adds to the tension the audience feels as we empathise with the Duke. The size of the microphone in the shots that are edited together here emphasises the terror it inspires in the Duke. The big close-up adds to this, as do the various reaction shots of his wife, the young man, the middle-aged woman, the Duke’s men in waiting and the clergyman. When we cut back to the Duke the mist has turned to rain and drops can be seen on the frame of the microphone. They match the drops that have formed in the eyes of the Duchess as she suffers with her husband.  In poetry this effect is referred to as pathetic fallacy. We, the audience, have been positioned by the camerawork, editing and music to identify with her sympathy for the state of the Duke’s speech.
 
The Duke, Bertie, is undergoing treatment by a speech therapist in this next scene. A gramophone with its huge horn occupies the right of the frame and Bertie the left. Like the “wireless” microphone, it a  new invention that increases the possibilities of the human voice in communicating itself. The specialist advocates smoking as a relaxant and advises Bertie to inhale deeply as the smoke relaxes the larynx and the nerves and also gives one confidence. The Duchess, Elizabeth, looks on sceptically. The gramophone is again prominent on the right of the reverse angle shot as she gets back to her reading  and pets her Corgi. The focus changes from Bertie to a silver tray that resembles the one in the studio: the announcer was, indeed, being treated royally! The specialist counts out seven marbles and asks Bertie to insert them into his mouth. He is photographed from a low angle as he looms over his patient. Elizabeth asks what purpose is being served. The shot is in deep focus with the silver tray slightly out of focus in the foreground, the gramophone on the left this time. Its horn may comment ironically on Bertie’s inability to communicate. The specialist argues that his approach is a classical one that has been in use since the time of Demosthenes (the Greek orator who cured his stammer by putting pebbles in his mouth.) Again the horn of the gramophone is emphasised as he hands Bertie a reader. Bertie and the specialist are filmed in big close-up. The effect emphasises the former’s discomfort and renders the latter grotesque. We are positioned to view him as having little by way of common sense: having filled his patient’s mouth with glass marbles he encourages him to enunciate!
 
In extreme discomfort Bertie tries to read. He looks around at Elizabeth in frustration at his mouthful of glass. It might strike the audience that he is deferring to his wife by subjecting himself to this treatment. Spitting out the marbles he storms angrily out of the room. This is the first indication of the fact that the Duke has a temper: he can be driven only so far, but has a breaking point. After Bertie storms out of the room, we return to deep focus as Elizabeth rises and thanks the specialist for his efforts. This repetition in the composition closes off the action of the treatment scene almost as if it were acting as a bracket on either side of it. The music starts up and plays over the transition to the next scene in the adjoining room.
 
Bertie is furiously trying to get his cigarette lighter to work: he needs something to calm his nerves and relax. Immediately behind his hands stands a telephone set, another modern invention that aids vocal communication. As Elizabeth enters, the camera tracks after her and Bertie is still shouting angrily about the “bloody marbles.” The plaintive musical theme plays over this action and the piano notes that we heard during the Wembley scene play again, reaching one note and then repeating it, as if it cannot get any further, just like Bertie’s speech. He is framed against a background of light coming through the lace curtains that cover the windows completely. The colour scheme recalls the grey mist of the Wembley scenes. Elizabeth is trying to calm her husband by reciting the opening words of what might be a nursery rhyme designed to calm an angry child. She tells him that he cannot keep on “Doing this!” It is not clear from the context whether she means he cannot be taking on new treatments like this, smoking like this, losing his temper like this or walking out on treatments like this. Bertie tries to get Elizabeth to promise “No more.” We have already noted that he looked around at her before he gave up on the marbles experiment. This request may indicate that she is determined to find a treatment that will suit him. The single piano note sounds repetitively as they talk. Elizabeth fails to give him the assurance he requests.
 
Another musical theme on piano and strings plays over the cut to this next scene. A footman walks before a Rolls Royce leading it out of a dense fog into our view. The colour scheme ties in with the grey of the lace curtains in the previous scene. In the car sits Elizabeth and she is looking out for an address on Harley Street, a place renowned for the medical expertise of those who practise there. A woman pushing a perambulator catches her eye. In the last scene Elizabeth tried to ease Bertie’s anger with a nursery rhyme. This maternal attitude she has to her husband’s speech problem might be hinted at again here as she searches Harley Street for someone who will lead Bertie out of the fog of inarticulateness that surrounds him. This is her answer to his request at the end of the last scene!
Extract from Student's Guide: 

SEQUENCE 1         THE DUKE’S SPEECH I

Read the following questions and then let the film roll until Elizabeth reaches Harley Street

Who is the king of England in 1925? How big is his empire? What has the Duke of York to do in Wembley? What is the first image that appears in the film? Freeze the frame when the film’s title appears. How would you describe the type of font that is used? Is it the same font that was used for the opening credits? Can you suggest why this font is used?  What impression do you get from the technology in the frame?
 
What is the next thing that appears on the screen? What is your impression of the man holding thisprop? How is he presented to us, the audience? How do these images fit with the information that appeared on the card that opened the film? Describe the setting at this point. How does it compare to the previous setting? How does the couple in the frame fit into this setting? How is the man positioned within the frame? How are we being positioned to view this couple? How would you describe the musical theme that plays over these opening shots? How do you think the clergyman feels as he waits for the Duke?
 
Describe the composition when we cut back to the studio setting again. What is going on here at this point? What happens on the soundtrack as the man gargles his throat. Describe the camerawork for this action. What associations have you with the kind of props he is presented with?
 
Who is the man waiting at the bottom of the stairway? Describe the shot of him as he gets his two minute warning. How do you think he is feeling? How did you come to this conclusion? What connections can you make between the two men who are being presented to us in the cross-cutting? What advice has the man who comes down the steps? What has the the clergyman to say? What is their attitude to the Duke, in your opinion?
 
What is the man in the studio doing when we cut to him next? Is he used to this kind of activity? How does his preparation compare with that of the Duke? Describe the transition back to the Duke. What might it suggest about the way each man has prepared for what is coming?
 
What do we find out when the announcer begins to talk? Describe the camerawork for this scene. How do you think the Duke feels as he climbs the stairs? Describe the background outside the stadium. Describe the camerawork as he is told about the red light. How are we being positioned  by this technique to view the Duke? What is on the soundtrack at this point? What do you think is on the Duke’s mind? What do we find out about his older brother? What does this speech represent for the Duke of York? Describe the lighting as this is being announced.
 
Describe the musical theme as the Duke takes the final flight of steps up to the microphone. How does it compare with the theme that has been playing in the earlier shots? How would you describe the shot that gives us the Duke’s last steps to the microphone? How are we being positioned to view him? When does the music stop? How are the camerawork and editing being used here?  
 
When does the music start up again? What effect might the orchestral score have on the audience? How does the editing add to this? Does anything else add to the tension in this scene? Make a list of the shots of the reaction to the Duke’s efforts. What is the overall effect of this montage? How do you think his listeners feel about the Duke? How do you feel about his delivery of the King’s speech?
 
What is going on in this next scene? Do you recognise the prop that occupies the right hand side of the screen? What has the specialist to say about smoking? How do you think the Duchess feels about this? Describe the camerawork as the doctor lifts the marbles from the glass. When did we last see props like these? Is there an irony in this? What does the Duchess think of this treatment? Describe the composition as she questions the doctor’s methods. Can you see any prop that might comment ironically on the King’s speech? Who was Demosthenes? What feature of the mise en scène is in the foreground as the Duke takes the book? How are we being positioned to view the doctor as he instructs the Duke?
 
Why do you think the Duke looks around at his wife before spitting out the marbles? How is he feeling as he leaves the room? How does the Duchess handle the situation? Describe the camerawork as the scene ends. What props feature in the foreground? Why might a director repeat details in this way?
 
Describe the transition to this next scene. Can you see a prop that makes a visual connection back to the last image in the previous scene? How does the Duke, Bertie, feel about the doctor and the treatment he advised? Describe the piano theme that plays over this scene. Describe the background as Bertie tries to get the lighter to work. Might there be any connection between this action and the music? What might the Duchess, Elizabeth, mean when she says “Tick. Tock.”? What promise does Bertie try to get from his wife? Does she answer him?
 
Is there any connection between the setting for this scene and that of the previous one? Why is the footman walking ahead of the royal car? Where is Elizabeth going? Can you detect any elements of themise en scène that might indicate the role she is playing on the Duke’s behalf? What do you associate with this particular street in London? Can you think of a symbolic reading for the composition and action of this scene?