Anna and the King of Siam (1946)
post written by Esther Filbrun
Title: Anna and the King of Siam (1946; G)
Director: John Cromwell
Major Themes: History, Literary Adaptations, Thailand
Synopsis: When Anna and her young son Louis arrive in Siam to run a school for the king’s children, they have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into.
I’ve loved the story of Anna and the King of Siam for quite a while now. My first introduction was through an abridged copy of Margaret Landon’s book, but I found the full version fascinating, and ever since then I’ve wanted to see the movies based on the book.
I was very impressed with this 1940’s version of the story. It kept to the main plot fairly well, yet didn’t shrink from the horrors Anna faced, either (although, in saying that, I still struggle to see some things on-screen, too). What I find so incredible is the amount of courage Anna maintained even while she was in a king’s court that cared little for the subjects, doing her best to bring light, truth, and hope to all those around her.
I’ve admired Anna’s wisdom ever since I first heard her story. Choosing to go to the place she did was not something I would have done, but she recognized a need and did her best to fill it. Despite terrible odds and a culture that confused and sometimes angered her, she persisted in what she believed was right, even when it came to standing up against the wrong the king was doing.
The thing I loved about her story the most was that she rarely missed a chance. Often, there was a time restriction placed in events, but other times she had to keep pressing an issue until she got the desired solution. Few women in that day and age would have done what she did, but she went ahead anyway. And though some things horrified her, she always sought good for those around her. She’s quite an inspiration!
One other thing I appreciated was that she wasn’t a feminist. Even though she filled a difficult role, she did so with feminine grace every time. I loved that!
Though Anna was not an overtly Christian woman, I believe there’s a lot we can learn from her life. What a country looks like when Christ and Christian values are not in place. A picture into Thailand history, and what the culture there in the 1850s looked like, at least to some extent. How much difference one person can make if they are willing to do their job well and do it with their whole heart.
This was a good movie, although there were elements I struggled with (discussed further in warnings). For the most part, it seemed to follow along pretty well with the book, although the last half hour or so deviates some. In all, a good movie, although I struggled some with the violence.
WARNING: Most of the movie was very good. However, throughout the film, women in the harem are pictured in what I consider skimpy dress—generally a cloth around their chest, with their waist and below covered. If clothing issues bother you, I wouldn’t recommend watching this as it appears fairly regularly throughout the story. From 1:28:10 to 1:30:52, there is a trial of a young woman, a man appears and has been badly beaten, and a woman is beaten. From 1:33:55 – 1:34:40, a man and woman are tortured and burned alive (you see the flames, but then it’s off-screen), and there is screaming. If it bothers you if a movie does not completely follow the true story, this one does have at least two different things happen that are not true to life.
Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults
Keywords: History, Historical Fiction, Literary Adaptations, Thailand, Movies