Anna and the King (1999) Poster

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  • The movie details the story of Anna Leonowens (Jodie Foster), a widowed teacher from Britain (by way of India) accompanied by her young son Louis (Tom Felton), who comes to Siam to teach the children of the Siamese King Mongkut (Yun-Fat Chow) aka Rama IV.

  • Yes, albeit indirectly. Anna and the King is a remake of an earlier movie, Anna and the King of Siam (1946) (1946), which itself was based on Anna and the King of Siam, a 1944 semi-fictional novel by American writer Margaret Landon. In turn, Landon's novel is based on the memoir, The English Governess at the Siamese Court (1870) by Anna Leonowens, the British educator who was hired in 1862 to teach English to the wives and children of Mongkut, king of Siam. The story of Tuptim and her lover is taken from Leonowens' second memoir, The Romance of the Harem (1873). The story of Anna Leonowens and the King of Siam was also adapted by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for a 1951 stage musical, which was subsequently was made into the film musical The King and I (1956) (1956). Screenwriters Steve Meerson and Peter Krikes wrote the screenplay for Anna and the King.

  • The former kingdom of Siam, now known as Thailand, is situated in Southeast Asia, bordered on the north by Laos and Myanmar (formerly Burma), to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Siam and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and Myanmar. The capital city is Bangkok.

  • The narrator is King Chulalongkorn, voiced by Ramli Hassan.

  • In the film, the King, at first, claims to have 23 wives, 42 concubines, and 58 children with 10 more on the way. At the British royal dinner, Prince Chulalongkorn (Keith Chin) raises the number by referring to his 68 brothers and sisters. The real King Mongkut [1804-1868] is said to have had 82 children by 39 wives.

  • Although the King planned to step in and save Tuptim (Bai Ling) and her lover Khun Phra Balat (Sean Ghazi) from being executed, he did not do so because Anna had made a comment to the court saying that she would speak to the King. Because she had done this, he was unable to do anything as he would have lost face by appearing to be taking instructions from a governess.

  • In a lesson on how "nature abhors a vacuum," Anna tosses a flaming stick into a bottle, places a peeled, hard-boiled egg on the top of the neck, and the egg is suddenly sucked into the bottle. It works because the fire depletes the oxygen inside the bottle, creating not really a vacuum (because nitrogen is still inside), but a reduced pressure, which sucks the pliable egg inside.

  • Anna was hired in 1862 and left the position in 1867, a period of almost six years.

  • Anna decides to leave Siam and return to England. Meanwhile, with General Alak (Randall Duk Kim) and his troops marching against the Palace, the King and his family are placed in danger. The Kralahome (Syed Alwi) wants to evacuate the city, but the King tries another ploy. He announces to the city that a white elephant has been spotted in Prachin Buri and that he will be escorting the royal family to see it. When Anna and Louis approach the docks to board their departing ship, the Kralahome confides to her that there is no white elephant and that the King has invented the elephant as a cover for escorting the royal family to a monastery in the village of Nong Khai. The Kralahome requests that Anna convince the King to go with the royal family instead of remaining at the Palace until his army returns, which is his current plan. Anna succeeds in convincing the King by offering to go along with the entourage as a means of further disguising the actual nature of the trip. Unfortunately, Alak's spies see that the King has deviated from his course to Prachin Buri and is now on the way to Nong Khai, so Alak and his army go after them. When the King sees Alak's army amassing on the other side of the canyon, he charges Prince Chulalongkorn with leading the family on to the monastery. Then the King and a handful of soldiers rig the bridge with explosives. When Alak comes marching across the bridge with his army behind him, he is met by King Mongkut and two of the King's soldiers. The King tries to bluff Alak into believing that he has a whole army behind him, but Alak calls his bluff and starts to advance across the bridge. Suddenly, a bugle can be heard and "bombs" start bursting in the hills. Anna has set off the fireworks that were meant for the white elephant celebration. Believing the King has the backing of England, Alak's army makes a hurried retreat, leaving Alak to face Mongkut alone. HOwever, Mongkut refuses to have him killed, saying instead, "I want him to live with his humiliation." The King and his soldiers leave the bridge. Just as Alak picks up a rifle and aims for the King, the King's third soldier blows up the bridge, taking Alak with it. At first, the King is livid with Anna for not going on to the monastery, but he winds up bowing to her for saving Siam. As a celebration, Prince Chulalongkorn puts on a skit featuring a white elephant. In the final scene, the King and Anna profess their love for each other but agree that it would not be proper for a king and schoolteacher to act on it. As they say their goodbyes, the King asks Anna for one last dance while Chulalongkorn looks on.

  • No, but there is an epilogue that was cut from the film. It shows King Chulalongkorn visiting Anna, now old and gray-haired, many years later in England. She serves him tea, and he returns the ring that King Mongkut had once tried to give her. This time she accepts it and gives him Louis' bugle in return. Later, they have dinner together.

  • Yes. Prince Chulalongkorn [1853-1910] assumed the throne upon his father's death in 1868. A note at the end of the movie says that... Thanks to the vision of his father, King Mongkut, and the teachings of Anna Leonowens, King Chulalongkorn not only maintained Siam's independence, but also abolished slavery, instituted religious freedom and reformed the judicial system. King Chulalongkorn's reign is considered to be one of the greatest in Siam/Thailand's history.

  • Most likely not. Leonowens [1834-1915] was 27 years old when she took her position as the teacher to the King's children. King Mongkut [1804-1868] was 58 years old at the time. While the age difference doesn't preclude their having a romantic relationship, there is nothing in either Leonowens' or Mongkut's personal diaries that suggests anything other than a tolerance of each other.

  • It is historically accurate in the sense that Anna Leonowens was hired by the King of Siam to teach his children, particularly Prince Chulalongkorn, about the ways of the outside world. Some parts of the movie, e.g., the portrayal of the King, Anna's romantic relationship with the King, the conflict between Siam, Burma, and England, and Anna's impact on the modernization of Siam, have been severely criticized, so much that the movie was banned from being filmed or even shown in Thailand, lest it give an inaccurate vision of Thailand's real history to its residents.

  • Yes. Project Gutenberg has placed the noncopyrighted story online. It can be viewed here.

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