Directed by Matthew Vaughn, ‘The King’s Man’ is a historical film that follows Orlando Oxford, who oversees a top-secret spy service to end World War I. A prequel to the two ‘Kingsman’ films, the spy film explores the origins of the Kingsman agency in the wake of the events that evolve to the First World War. As the film delves deep into the nuances of the Great War in the signature “Kingsman” fashion, the viewers must be wondering whether the film is based on real incidents. If you are curious to know more about the same, we have got you covered!
Is The King’s Man Based on a True Story?
No, ‘The King’s Man’ is not based on a true story. But the fictional narrative of the film is conceived in the backdrop of World War I, with numerous historical figures as significant characters. As a prequel to ‘Kingsman’ films, which are based on the comic book series ‘Kingsman’ by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, the film depicts the origin story of the fictional independent intelligence agency Kingsman with certain real events and characters shaping the storyline.
The film is the result of Matthew Vaughn’s attempt to bring out the causes and effects of the First World War. “The whole point about this film is it’s the birth of Kingsman, and Kingsman was born out of tragedy and out of the world needing to have people who are clever, who are responsible enough to think we should never have another war [World War I] like this. A pointless war basically, and a war that most people, even historians, cannot pinpoint why it happened, and what the aims were. I mean, it was crazy,” he said to IGN.
As the premise of World War I becomes the genesis point of the secret service agency, several infamous historical figures become the pivotal characters in the film. Grigori Rasputin, whose involvement in World War I ranged from being the personal advisor of Russian Empress Alexandra Feodorovna to the selector of cabinet ministers, inspired Vaughn and co-writer Karl Gajdusek to characterize the principal antagonist as a fictitious Rasputin himself. Along with Rasputin, King George, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Tsar Nicholas II, who ruled England, Germany, and Russia respectively at the time, are some of the other important real-life inspired characters in the film.
While the narrative of the film zigzags between history and fiction, some crucial segments of that narrative are portrayed as it happened in reality. The familial connections of King George with Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas II as their first cousin inspired Vaughn to portray it as one of the keystones of the film. The assassination attempt on Archduke Franz Ferdinand by bombing is another pivotal part of the film that is portrayed true to history. Archduke’s assassination was the starting point of the First World War in real life. As per Vaughn, Rasputin’s death completes the historical core of the film.
The film also features more characters based on real-life figures such as Austrian charlatan Erik Jan Hanussen, British Army officer Herbert Kitchener, Russian aristocrat Prince Felix Yusupov, industrialist Alfred DuPont, Dutch presumed spy Mata Hari, and Archduke’s assassinator Gavrilo Princip. One way or another, these individuals were part of the First World War in varied capacities. The characters that are influenced by these figures are combined with a fair share of fictional characters to form the narrative of the film.
The protagonist, Orlando Oxford, is seemingly influenced by Thomas Edward Lawrence, who was an archeologist, army officer, diplomat, and apparently a spy as well. Lawrence’s wartime activities inspired the classic film ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ which also inspired Vaughn to conceive the film. For Vaughn, the motivation behind making ‘The King’s Man’ was to create a film that resembles the grandeur of the films of the 1960s and ‘70s.
“There was Lawrence of Arabia, The Man Who Would Be King, Doctor Zhivago. The last time I saw a film like that, ironically was with Ralph in The English Patient where the screen was filled and I really went on an adventure. Making a movie like that on this sort of scale is not exactly easy to raise money for so I thought if I entwine that into the King’s Man universe, Hollywood wouldn’t be as scared of it. You have to con these guys to make good films!” Vaughn said to EW.
‘The King’s Man’ is a stunning blend of history and fiction, with a touch of R-rated ‘Kingsman’ craziness. The film is neither a history lesson nor a fictional extravaganza and the fine line in-between the two is splendidly visible for the audience to cherish.
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