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Mrs. Anna Leonowens and her son Louis arrive in Bangkok, where she has been contracted to teach English to the children of the royal household. She threatens to leave when the house she had been promised is not available, but falls in love with the children. A new slave, a gift of a vassal king, translates "Uncle Tom's Cabin" into a Siamese ballet. After expressing her unhappiness at being with the King, the slave decides to make an attempt to escape with her lover. Anna and the King start to fall in love, but her headstrong upbringing inhibits her from joining his harem. She is just about to leave Siam but something important she finds out makes her think about changing her mind. Written by
Randy Goldberg <email@example.com>
Rita Moreno said that the heavy Siamese headdresses she and the ballet dancers wore in "The Small House of Uncle Thomas" ballet sequence gave all of them headaches, which lasted for days. See more »
Tuptim's play "Small House of Uncle Thomas" is an inaccurate hodgepodge of characters and scenes from the original book, but this can easily be understood as her best interpretation of the story as a new speaker of English who wants to use the story for her own purposes to change the King's heart. However, few of the references to Buddha or Buddhism within the song are depicted accurately and shows a clear Western interpretation of the religion. Some specific examples are that Buddhists do not view Buddha as God but rather as the founder of their teachings and the first to attain Enlightenment, they do not therefore pray to Buddha for help and guidance, they do not believe in angels, and they do not believe that Buddha calls them to his presence when they die; all of these are strictly Christian beliefs, most likely used in the story for the purpose of relating to a Western audience. See more »
Good day, Madam. My name is Tuptim. I already speak English.
And very nicely, too.
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Wonderful, glorious colour and Brynner in his finest hour.
Brynner is so strongly identified with this role that it is difficult to remember him in anything else. He gives his all in this performance, sometimes way over the top, but it fits with this movie which is in itself over the top, offering us the Hollywood version of Siam and introducing 1955 sensibilities to the era of 1862. No matter.
The musical numbers are great and hummable, most done by Marni Nixon, who dubbed for so many in that era of endless musicals and no-voice stars.
People who protest about the insensibility and racial aspect of these musicals (Showboat and South Pacific, etc. also comes to mind)don't get it - that this is a musical, composed about an unenlightened era and is not a documentary and cannot be taken seriously.
The play within the play is truly magical, I could watch it over and over again, it is a perfect little opera.
Deborah Kerr is terrific in this and should have received an Oscar. I felt sorry for the boy who played her son - I think they appeared again together in Tea and Sympathy, but I could be wrong - there was not much to his role, he had to stand around and just be pretty and nod at his mother a lot. Very difficult.
Rita Moreno excelled as usual.
8 out of 10. Not to be missed.
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