"Long live the king."
The King Is Dead is a short film about a tyrannical ruler who consults fortune-tellers but refuses to accept his fate. It was created by four students at renowned French school Supinfocom Rubika.
Two main characters, a number of supporting characters (the crowd, guards, etc.), external conflict plus a conflict with destiny, an emphasis on flashforwards and elements from the fantasy genre are the main components of the short.
Staged in the interior and exterior of a castle, and in the outskirts of a town, in medieval times, the short employs a highly stylized aesthetic. It transitions from a black and white palette to a color one a number of times throughout the short. This narrative device is sometimes used to identify flashforwards and show how close they’re getting to invading the main narrative thread. In certain shots, it introduces a staging the mixes elements from different locations in the same scene (1m59 shows the table turn into a wall of the castle, while the fortune-teller remains in the frame). It successfully transmits the impression that the fortune-teller’s magic is spinning out of control, and that fate is inevitable. The short’s iconography heavily references fortune-telling, magic and elements from the fantasy genre.
Remarkable work has been done on character and environment design. Aesthetic work is impressive for a team of four artists: framing, lighting, camera angles, composition of elements add to the dramatic effect of the film and are a pleasure to watch. The king and fortune-teller characters’ expressiveness help transmit and increase conflict.
Visual rhythm is high, handled through editing, changes in aesthetic, motion within the frame, changes in lighting, camera moves (zooms, crane, tilts). Editing and transitions plays a primary role in driving the story forward. Shot sizes and angles have been carefully chosen. Close-ups abound to display the cards and transmit the expressions of the main characters (extreme close-ups are used, too). Medium, full and two-shots are employed to show the “conversation” of the king and fortune-teller. Wider shots describe the environments, the crowds and the situations presented by the flashforwards.
What makes The King Is Dead work so well? Outstanding aesthetic work, a fantasy script with self-reflexive elements, bold directing with a stylized approach, highly creative staging, expressive characters that help transmit conflict and a subject related to the inevitability of destiny that will appeal to a wide audience.