Movie Review

Anna and the King

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense violent sequences.

Reviewed by: Gabe Rodriguez
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adult and family
Genre:
Romance
Length:
2 hr. 10 min.
Jodie Foster in Anna and the King
Relevant Issues
Anna and the King

ROYALTY of the Bible: kings / queens / princes

Humility

If bigamy is sinful, why did King Solomon have so many wives? Answer

Starring: Jodie Foster, Yun-Fat Chow, Bai Ling, Deanna Yusoff, Melissa Campbell | Director: Andy Tennant | Producers: Lawrence Bender, Ed Elbert | Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox

“Anna and the King” is one of the most surprising movies to come from Hollywood in quite a while. Morally speaking, it contains no language whatsoever (not even a minor blasphemous use of God’s name), barely any sexual content (and that only consists of the fact that the King of Siam has many wives and concubines, and no nudity or sexual activity is seen with any of them), and no drug use. The violence is rather discreet, but still present. There are a few mildly bloody scenes with guns and the like, and one rather disturbing scene where a pair of star-crossed lovers are publicly beheaded (only implied, not actually seen).

The story follows Anna (played in an Oscar-worthy fashion by the amazing Jodie Foster) who travels to Siam to become teacher to the King’s many, many children. Once there, she stands up for what she believes to be right, and, by way of courage, shapes the destiny of a nation. A classic story that is now put on screen by director Andy Tennant (who also did last year’s superb “Ever After,” with Drew Barrymore) with some astounding cinematography and lush costume design. Always good to look at and equally moving, “Anna and the King” not only proves to be one of the year’s best films, but also one of the best for parents to take their older children to.

Year of Release—1999

Viewer Comments
highly recommended… Having read Anna Leonowens diaries, I believe that Yul Brenner’s portrayal of the king in “The King and I” was more accurate than the portrayal given in this version (Anna reports that the spoiled King was prone to temper tantrums. The king in this version, though spoiled, was more rational than Anna’s diaries indicate). However, this latest version of Leonowens' story is beautifully done and the negative content is minimal—enough to advance the story, but no more. Nothing gratuitious. The finale was exciting, though fictionalized (I kept expecting Indiana Jones to appear at any moment!). One of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. I highly recommend it. My Ratings: [4½/5]
—Nora Mayers, age 44
some historical inaccuracies… As a former serviceman and missionary to Thailand, I was understandably curious about this movie. I also wanted to find out how much Thai I would be able to pick up in the dialogue. I liked the story line a lot; it had a lot of good qualities, such as two very different cultures coming into a reconciliation of each other. Anna came to realize that the king was not just a belligerent, egotistical and oversexed monarch monarch, but a progressive man who had a vision for his country, perhaps energized more than anything else by practicality, based on the colonialism of the day. The thing that disturbs me about the film are the historical inaccuracies portrayed there. I got to this Christian movie critic web page by a link “Thaistudents.com”. They cited such inaccuracies such as the fact that King Mongut, by 1862 was already 65, not the young, spry, handsome guy he was portrayed in the movie. In addition to that was the rather dubious action scene at the end, which undoubtedly had no basis in historical fact. I can understand, having been there, why Thai people are so upset about it, and why it has been banned over there. It’s like I have told my co-workers—over there, you don’t mess with the king. My Ratings: [5/4]
—Clifford Smart, age 48
no foul language or sexual content… Enjoyed the movie a great deal. It is so wonderful to view a movie with no foul language and sexual content. I went with 5 other ladies and we all felt the same. It is a very good movie. Hope Hollywood makes more like this one! My Ratings: [5/5]
—June Lowell, age 47
I thought it was a wonderful movie. …I cried both times I saw it and I loved it. I loved the way it was done. It is definitely in my top 10. My Ratings: [4/5]
—Joey, age 15
“extremely impressed”… Our family recently went to see this movie and were extremely impressed. It was magnificent to see in a theatre and for the first time in ages, we all commented as we walked out—no bad language! This kind of superb entertainment needs to come out of Hollywood more often. We have two teenage sons who were the ones with the greatest interest in going to see it and they were not disappointed. My Ratings: [5/5]
—Barb Kral, age 40+
My husband and I just saw the movie and I want to see it again. It was very well done, and the scenery is breathtaking. I’m not sure just how accurate it is historically, but it makes you want to find out more about this country. A beautifully done film, well worth seeing.
—Irma, age 56
This is such a great movie. I have to admit that I was dragged to this movie by my girlfriend, but I’m glad that she did. This is a must see for all people of all ages! My Ratings: [4/5]
—Kee, age 17
Saw this excellent movie today with my 11 yr old granddaughter. I loved it. The films has much beauty, scenery, costumes, the many children, the cast, well worth seeing. Everyone did wonderfully. My Ratings: [4/5]
—Dr. Anna Rich, over 21
After a recent mission trip to Thailand itself, I am even more refreshed after watching this movie. Even as I may be able to relate to the unique culture and language, I am truly thankful to the real Anna. Reason because, if one would have noticed, at the end of the movie, it stated that Siam (I don’t know how long since Anna left) abolished slavery and also at the same time allowed Religious Freedom! I’m thankful to God that, Anna (real) could be among the first few to pave a way for Christianity to enter into Thailand. This nation is one of the very fortunate few (in Asia) one can evangelise freely in… My Ratings: [4½/4]
—Winnie, age 18
What a great movie! You will want to see it again and again, to re-live the happy feelings you experienced walking out of this movie. It is a pure movie with a great cast. If you can handle the scene where it is implied that two “lovers” get beheaded, you will find this movie to have a 5 star Christian rating as well. My Ratings: [3½/5]
—Shannon, age 19
Having seen two other versions of this movie, this one is by far the best. Yun-Fat Chow was excellent as the King and the movie was visually stunning. The love story was noble and portrayed with tenderness. Young children will not relate to this movie but this is one you can see with your older teen with no apologies and provides a good opportunity to discuss the beliefs of other cultures. My Ratings: [4/5]
—Donna Kristiansen, age 49
Excellent movie! It is so nice to find a Hollywood production that we could take our 13 year old to, and not be embarrassed about the content. Jodi Foster and Yun-Fat Chow were excellent. We would highly recommend it to families with older children. My Ratings: [4½/5]
—Peggy Showalter, age 43
highly recommended …there are the few scenes of rather strong brutality depicting a time of war, after all this account does take place during a time of war for Siam. I believe however the overall splendor, excellent story line, superb acting (Jodi Foster not to be out performed by Yun-Fat Chow who was superb) and vivid emphasis to detail makes this one of the most worthwhile movies to come out this year. Everything from scenery to costumes set a superb stage for this most excellent drama/love story. It is too bad they waited until the end of the year to release this film. It was for my wife and I a wonderful afternoon of entertainment and conversation that followed. We highly recommend this new release. My Ratings: [3½/5]
—Glenn Lockwood, age 52
Foster’s fake English accent disappointing… I thought that the movie was done very well; however, I was somewhat disappointed overall. Yun-Fat Chow had an excellent portrayal of the King of Siam; however, I didn’t think that Jodie Foster’s portrayal of Anna was the greatest. The fake English accent took away from her character quite a bit. All in all, the movie was very good and very well done. There was some violence that I think would upset children such as the hanging scene as well as the beheading. The scenery was absolutely beautiful! My Ratings: [3/4½]
—Lynn, age 22
“visually engaging, a good documentary”… Despite the length of the movie (2 hrs, 45 minutes), I found it to be visually engaging and a good documentary on the state of intercultural relations between Siam, Burma, England, and France during the late 1800’s. The scenery and the costuming make it worth seeing alone. Excellent character development, both of the main characters and the supporting cast. There is some dialogue regarding the differences in belief systems (Buddhist vs. Christian) which can provide an opportunity for discussion with older children. For those who like romance, there is romance without offensive sexual overtones. There are some violent scenes of hanging and border warfare; I would not take young children to this. I will definitely go to see this again. My Ratings: [4½/5]
—Sherryl, age 38