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Anna and the King

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Movie propaganda

Anna and the King is an epic tale set in Thailand in the late 19th century and chronicles the true life adventures of British governess Anna Leonowens (Jodie Foster), who is hired by King Mongkut (Yun-Fat Chow) of Siam to educate his 58 children. Soon after her arrival to this exotic, unfamiliar land, Anna finds herself engaged in a battle of wits with the strong-willed ruler.

Persons of interest

  • Jodie Foster .... Anna Leonowens
  • Yun-Fat Chow .... King Mongkut
  • Ling Bai .... Tuptim
  • Tom Felton .... Louis Leonowens
  • Syed Alwi .... The Kralahome
  • Randall Duk Kim .... General Alak
  • Kay Siu Lim .... Prince Chowfa
  • Melissa Campbell .... Princess Fa-Ying
  • Keith Chin .... Prince Chulalongkorn
  • Mano Maniam .... Moonshee
  • Shanthini Venugopal .... Beebe
  • Deanna Yusoff .... Lady Thiang
  • Geoffrey Palmer .... Lord John Bradley
  • Anne Firbank .... Lady Bradley
  • Bill Stewart .... Mycroft Kincaid
  • Sean Ghazi .... Khun Phra Balat
  • Anna Leonowens .... Author
  • Steve Meerson .... Screenwriter
  • Peter Krikes .... Screenwriter
  • Andy Tennant .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

  • Anna and the King official movie site

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Not The King and I.

Despite both films being based on the same story, the former is a camp romp through Hollywood while the latter (er... this one) is a doomed romance set against the backdrop of civil war and imperial expansion.

Hmmm... I am starting to sound like a PR person again.

Forgetting for a moment the musical, what you get here is a lot of sun never sets on the British Empire stuff, from the point of view of those who weren't in it. Yun-Fat (or is it Chow? I hate it when some people westernise their names and others do nothing while Westerners busily reverse them thinking they're being culturally sensitive, then I have to figure out who has done what) portrays a man who is both King and Father. Under both hats he is balancing the fate of his heart against the fate of Siam. It must be pretty hard to forget you're a King, especially when people continually hit their heads on the ground at the sight of you. Yun-Fat avoids bipolar disorder by blending both states into one: the man of duty and the man of love become, simply, the man.

Jodie throws away that rounded American accent and picks up a delightfully English English one. Some Americans can't get further than the mid-Atlantic (check out Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker's Dracula) but Jodie not only sounds English, she is English. The stiff upper lip, the starched collars, the corsetted morality and the inherent sense of superiority are all there. That part of her character makes the fall all the more interesting. Mongkut's fall is less interesting because (a) he is ethnic and (b) he already has lots of wives and concubines so adding one more isn't much of a deal. Perhaps if he were as yet unmarried it would be a more interesting journey for him. Anna, like contemporaneously reigning Queen Victoria, embodies all that is good about the English woman, so her submission to this swarthy native, King or no, is of major import to the idea of the British Empire.

Can you tell that I have a degree in English?

Moving right along... the story is rather interesting in the historical sense for its attention to the little things. The sets, the jungles, the clothing, the attitudes, the beliefs and the faiths all conspire to give you an instant understanding of the times without the need for lectures, notes or headings. The subplots (internal strife, a secret romance and international politics) do the same thing but on a larger scale. Everything you see serves to support the relationship between Anna and Mongkut. Since that is what this film is about (check the title if you don't believe me) it is a good thing.

What else do you want to know? The humour is subtle but rewarding. the romance is less subtle to the alert eye but just as rewarding (I felt almost warm and fuzzy after watching Anna and the King). The adventure bits are sort of predictable but barely take up 12 minutes so it doesn't matter. The acting is good, the story is good and the production values are good. it's a good film.

Now, the musical: it's Hollywood glamourisation at the expense of real world understanding. If you want to watch it, that's fine, but it was made in the 50s when filmmaking was fluff and TV always told the truth. He, he, he! Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho!

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio commentary
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Music video: How can I not love you by Joy Enriquez
  • Trailer: Theatrical

Media intelligence (VHS)

  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Music video: How can I not love you by Joy Enriquez
  • Trailer: Theatrical

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level violence)

Surveillance time

148 minutes (2:28 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

DVD retail: Undated July 2000

Cinema surveillance images

Anna and the King image
Anna and the King image
Anna and the King image
Anna and the King image
Anna and the King image
Anna and the King image
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