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|Anna and the King|
|Directed by||Andy Tennant|
|Produced by||Lawrence Bender
|Screenplay by||Steve Meerson
|Based on||Anna and the King of Siam
by Margaret Landon
|Music by||George Fenton
|Editing by||Roger Bondelli|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||148 minutes|
Anna and the King is a 1999 biographical drama film loosely based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam (and its 1946 film adaptation), which give a fictionalised account of the diaries of Anna Leonowens. The story concerns Anna, an English schoolteacher in Siam, now Thailand, in the late 19th century, who becomes the teacher of King Mongkut's many children and wives.
The film was directed by Andy Tennant and stars Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-fat. It was mostly shot in Malaysia, particularly in the Penang, Ipoh and Langkawi region. It was an Academy Award nominee in 2000 for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.
Anna Leonowens (Jodie Foster) is a British widow who has come to Siam with her son Louis (Tom Felton) to teach English to the dozens of children of King Mongkut (Chow Yun-fat). She is a strong-willed, intelligent woman, and this pleases the King, who wants to modernize his country to keep it safe from the threat of colonialism, while protecting many of the ancient traditions that give Siam its unique identity. The King and Anna discuss the differences between Eastern and Western love, and the King dismisses the notion that a man can be happy with only one wife. In order to win the favors of Britain, the King orders a sumptuous reception and delegates Anna to organize it. During the reception, the King verbally spars graciously and wittily with Sir Mycroft Kincaid (Bill Stewart), of the East India Company, who accuses Siam of being a superstitious nation. At the end of the reception, the King dances with Anna.
Anna is enchanted by the royal children, particularly Princess Fa-Ying (Melissa Campbell). The little girl identifies with the spirit of the playful monkeys who live in the trees of the royal garden. When she suddenly takes ill of cholera, Anna is summoned to her chambers to say goodbye. She gets there just as Fa-ying dies in Mongkut's hands, and the two mourn together. Sometime later, when the King finds that one of the monkeys has "borrowed" his glasses, as his daughter used to do, he is comforted by his belief in reincarnation and the idea that Fa-ying may be reborn as one of her beloved animals. Lady Tuptim (Bai Ling), the King's new favorite concubine, was already engaged to marry another man, Khun Phra Balat (Sean Ghazi), when brought to the court. The King is kind to her, but she is unhappy and at last runs away, disguising herself as a young man and joining the monastery where her former fiancé lives. She is tracked down and brought back to the palace, imprisoned, and initially caned along with her Balat. However, because of Anna's outburst during this incident, Tuptim and Balat are beheaded in front of the entire court, in order to save face.
Siam is under siege from what appears to be a British-funded coup d'état against King Mongkut, using Burmese soldiers. Mongkut sends out his brother Prince Chaofa (Kay Siu Lim) and his military advisor General Alak (Randall Duk Kim) to investigate. However, it turns out that Alak is the man behind the coup and he turns on and kills Chaofa. He then flees Siam into Burma where he summons and readies his troops to invade Siam and kill the King and his children. With Anna's help, the King manages to hide his children and his wives in a safe place, then he goes with the few soldiers he has to face Alak. The King and soldiers place high explosives on a wooden bridge high above a canyon floor, as Alak and his army approaches. The King orders his "army" to stay back and rides to the bridge with only two soldiers. Alak, in front of his army, confronts the King on the bridge.
Anna and Louis orchestrate a brilliant deception from their hiding spot in the forest: Louis uses his horn to replicate the sound of a bugle charge, as Anna "attacks" the area with harmless fireworks. The ploy works as the Burmese, believing the King has brought British soldiers, retreat in a panic. Alak attempts to recall them, but his efforts prove to be futile. Alak stands alone, but the King refuses to kill him, saying that Alak shall have to live with his shame. As the King turns to ride back to Siam, Alak picks up a gun and aims at the King, but the explosives are detonated, blowing the bridge and Alak to pieces.
At the end of the film, the King has one last dance with Anna and realizes that it is conceivable for one man to be pleased by only one woman. Anna returns to England with Louis. The King's son takes over, and abolishes slavery.
- Jodie Foster as Anna Leonowens
- Chow Yun-fat as King Mongkut
- Bai Ling as Tuptim
- Tom Felton as Louis T. Leonowens
- Randall Duk Kim as General Alak
- Kay Siu Lim as Prince Chaofa, King Mongkut's Brother
- Melissa Campbell as Princess Fa-Ying
- Deanna Yusoff as Queen Thiang
- Geoffrey Palmer as Lord John Bradley
- Anne Firbank as Lady Bradley
- Bill Stewart as Mycroft Kincaid, East India Trading Co.
- Sean Ghazi as Khun Phra Balat
- Syed Alwi as The Kralahome, Prime Minister
- Ramli Hassan as King Chulalongkorn
- Keith Chin as Prince Chulalongkorn
- Alif Silpachai as Chulalongkorn's brother
Anna and the King received mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 51% rating, based on 98 reviews, with the consensus stating that "Beautiful cinematography can't prevent Anna and the King from being boring and overly lengthy."  On a $92 million budget, the film grossed $39,263,420 domestically, but its international gross of $74,733,517 brought its worldwide gross to $113,996,937, making the film a modest financial success.
After reviewing the script, even after changes were made to try to satisfy them, the Thai government did not allow the film-makers to film in Thailand. The Thai authorities did not permit the film to be distributed in Thailand due to scenes that they construed as a disrespectful and historically inaccurate depiction of King Mongkut. Tony Dabbs, writing an opinion piece for the Thai newspaper The Nation, criticized to the film ban.
- Anna and the King at the Internet Movie Database
- Anna and the King at AllRovi
- Anna and the King at Box Office Mojo
- Anna and the King at Rotten Tomatoes
- Anna and the King at Metacritic