Theory of Nothing? A Review of The Theory of Everything
January 7, 2015
Plot vs. Story
July 29, 2014
Show, Don't Tell - Goal Setting Edition
June 27, 2018
Screenwriting Tips: Writing a Set Piece
An effective ‘set piece’ uses the scene’s setting to forward the story. It’s not just the action, but that it takes place in this specific place for a reason that is important to the protagonist.
What makes the final speech in a King’s Speech a set piece is not that the king has to give the rallying cry, but that he does it in a very small room alone with Lionel, a giant microphone separating the two men of different classes who are now nearly friends.
The King’s Speech isn’t about the King giving the speech (plot), but about King being able to give the speech because of the trust of an unlikely friend (story). The setting is pitch perfect: The microphone is ever-present, taking up no less than one third of the screen, and sometimes the whole screen for most of the sequence.
The entire country sits rapt to their radios listening. As the speech progresses, the microphone takes up less and less space. After he finishes, the King doesn’t hear the applause. There is a simply a re-establishing of the two men’s relationship.
Imagine if this had taken place in front of a large crowd, or in front of a microphone like Chaplin in The Great Dictator, also a great speech. It could have been a rousing speech, for sure, but it wouldn’t have forwarded the story – and wouldn’t have been a set piece.