The King’s Man filmmaker Matthew Vaughn takes on a historic epic

Not everyone was happy with a pivotal 20-minute scene that founds an epic new film.

When the franchise is known for its weird cartoon violence, such as a sequence of rainbow-colored exploding heads, you don’t expect the third installment to be a relatively dark historical epic.

But what is it The king’s man, in part, is.

A prequel to Kingsman and Kingsman: the golden circle, the film goes back to tell the story of the origins of the secret spy agency, a nugget that was planted in the original film.

The king’s man, starring Ralph Fiennes, takes place before and during World War I, and features a series of historical figures including Rasputin, Kaiser Wilhelm and Mata Hari. It’s a who’s who of real meanness.

But what really grounds the film in its historical context is not the Russian mystic and his savage ways, but the heartache of lives wasted in a futile war.

“Even when I was a kid learning about World War I, a history teacher said to me, ‘Well, it was basically a family feud'”, The king’s man director and co-writer Matthew Vaughn told

“And that stuck in my head for a long time. I was just like, ‘What? These people are all cousins, are they all related to each other? And millions and millions of people were dying for nothing, basically.

“World War I was such a tragedy and I thought, ‘Well, why not make a movie where the kids can also watch it and see the story in a context that they might find interesting, not just leaving a manual without flair ”.

Vaughn, 50, was a producer for Guy Ritchie for many years before setting out as a filmmaker on his own, directing Diaper Cake, Kick ass, X-Men: First Class and the Kingsman series.

Its vibe is swift and exuberant, with more than a touch of stylized violence. There’s a touch of Ritchie in there, too, but Vaughn’s films tend to hit stronger emotional notes, without the smugness of his countryman.

Vaughn’s mix of pathos and angst with the irreverent spirit of the Kingsman series makes The king’s man an entertaining but poignant film.

Finding the balance between the two hasn’t been easy, and much of it comes down to Fiennes’s touching performance as a pacifist lord whose son is desperate to go to war and a 20 minute streak. in the middle of filming in the muddy trenches of No Man’s Land, the notorious and deadly stretch between the two fronts.

Vaughn said he had some reservations about the scene, which captures the mess, trauma and dangers of No Man’s Land.

“Some people say, ‘Oh, I’m not sure you need this part,’ and I said, ‘Am I really supposed to make this part fun? What the hell are you talking about?

“So when we get to the trenches and there’s a 20 minute section where it gets pretty heavy. There is no other version of doing this without it being heavy.

“We had a few scenes that were actually pretty funny in there. Because the way many soldiers deal with the trauma of war is through humor. We had other scenes which were actually quite funny, but I decided not to put them because I was afraid some people would be offended. It was tricky.

“It was a tonal balance, but also a respectful balance where I wanted people to understand.”

Vaughn recalled a moment during filming when he and the crew, dressed in premium Canada Goose boots, gloves, hand warmers and coats, trudged through the mud of the No Man’s Land set. , and they complained to each other about how difficult it was before a sense of perspective hit.

“Then we all looked at each other and said, ‘Are we really complaining? “. It was a time when we all thought, what these young men and boys went through was beyond comprehension, beyond everything.

“So we had to treat him with respect. “

Delving into one of the darkest moments in modern world history is not lost on Vaughn, who hints at some parallels to contemporary times.

“As I always say, be careful who you choose as rulers because the world could be pretty fucked up. We’re all a part of it right now.

Although The king’s man was originally scheduled to come out before the pandemic, the horrors of WWI now resonate on a different level.

“The world [now], we’ve all come across a Rubicon in, I don’t know what. I don’t think any of us know that yet. The world has definitely changed forever.

“Bad things happen in history, but we do. I am an optimist at heart but I am also a realist. When the shit hits the fan, deal with it and then feel happy. “

The King’s Man is now in theaters

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