Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Anna and the King

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:PG-13
Profanity:None
Nudity/Sex:References to concubines, adultery
Alcohol/Drugs:Social drinking, King smokes cigars, child smokes
Violence/Scariness:Violent battles, whipping, beheading
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:1999

This is the fourth movie version — and the second this year — of the story of Anna Leonowens, brought to Siam in 1864 by King Monghut to teach his children. Anna and the King end up teaching each other a few things, too.

Of course, the best-remembered is the classic with Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr, and the unforgettable songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein. This version has spectacle to spare, but no “Getting to Know You,” no “Whistle a Happy Tune,” no genuine connection between the two leads (though we are supposed to believe that they are in love with one another), and a script that teeters between stolid and awful.

Jody Foster plays Anna, a widowed Englishwoman who lived most of her life in India. The king hires her because he wants his children to learn more about the world outside of Siam. She respects his culture, but she is appalled by the cruel treatment of bonded servants and urges him to make changes. The king is very progressive in some ways. He respects her independent spirit and values her counsel, but he forbids her to talk to her students about that issue.

Siam is independent, but bounded by colonies of France and England, and vulnerable. Anna aids the King in persuading the English that Siam is stable and “civilized.” And when the King and his children are in danger, Anna provides support.

It’s best to watch this movie with your eyes more than your ears. It is a visual treat. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (“The Black Stallion”) creates stunning images of splendor. But the dialogue is dreadful and the plot does not hold together, especially in a bizarre Mulan-style rescue. Worst of all is the all-but-loony way that the two leads, both playing highly principled people deeply aware of their responsibilities linger over a goodbye when the bad guys are charging, dance romantically in the middle of a state dinner, and generally act like Archie and Veronica at the malt shop.

Parents should know that the movie has some very intense violence, including battle scenes, bloody beatings, and non-graphic but very tense beheadings. Dead bodies hang from a tree and soldiers are poisoned. There is a very sad death of a child. There are references to the king’s many wives and concubines and one reluctant concubine is shown being prepared for her first night with him, and being reassured that he is a generous lover. The king smokes cigars and the boys try one.

As with the earlier, better, versions (including another non-musical version with Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison), topics for discussion include cultural diversity and how we distinguish between fundamental truths and cultural differences, the challenges of power (for example, the constant threats from those who want to seize it), and the importance of surrounding ourselves with people who tell us the truth, even when it is hard to hear.



Previous Posts

A New Alphabet Book for Women's History Month: Rad American Women A-Z
Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! is a wonderful new alphabet book to teach girls, boys, and their families abou

posted 3:37:56pm Mar. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Opening this Month: March 2015
Happy March! Looking forward to warmer days and better movies. Some of what we're looking forward to this month: March 6 "Chappie," from "District 9's" Neill Blomkamp, is the story of a robot whose artificial intelligence may just rise to the level of a personality, even a soul, with Hugh Ja

posted 3:35:27pm Mar. 01, 2015 | read full post »

A Purim Take on Uptown Funk -- Shushan Funk
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KsJKSew4BvY?rel=0" frameborder="0"] Happy Purim! May this be a year when all the Hamens of the world are vanquished. This tale, was once told In the days of Achashverosh This one needs a new girl Needs a good girl A strai

posted 12:36:54pm Mar. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Tribute: Leonard Nimoy
We mourn the loss of Leonard Nimoy, who created one of the most iconic characters of all time, "Star Trek's" half-Vulcan, half-human Mr. Spock, with pointed ears and angled eyebrows perfectly designed to convey a wry sense of irony.  The storylines of the original "Star Trek" were provocative polit

posted 12:00:09pm Feb. 28, 2015 | read full post »

New from Daniele Watts: Muted
Actress Daniele Watts stars as missing teenager Crystal Gladwell in Muted, winner of the 18th annual American Black Film Festival short film competition, showing on HBO throughout March 2015. Muted fol

posted 8:00:46am Feb. 28, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.