Anna and the King (1999)
Main Menu Introduction
Audio Commentary-Andy Tennant (Director)
Featurette-1.78:1, non 16x9, 14:04 minutes
Music Video-How Can I Not Love You (1.78:1, non 16x9, 4:24 minutes)
Theatrical Trailer-(1.78:1, non 16x9, 2:43 minutes)
|Year Of Production||1999|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (64:47)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Andy Tennant|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Interestingly, unlike The King & I, this movie says that it is based on the diaries of Anna Leonowens. Back when I studied a little bit of history the lecturer emphasized the importance of getting to primary sources - relying on the original words, rather than those of other writers. It sounds like the screenwriter for this movie has tried to get to the primary source in this case - this is to be applauded.
There are some strong similarities between the plot of The King & I, and Anna And The King (it would be disturbing if there were not), but there are some interesting differences. Both begin in 1862, with the arrival in Bangkok by ship of Anna Leonowens and her son. In Anna And The King, she is accompanied by two Indian servants, in The King & I she is not. Her first encounter is with the Prime Minister, and in both cases it is a cool one. She appears at an audience with the king, and reacts strongly when the audience ends without reaching her. One of the strong points of contention is over the house she was promised. In The King & I it is a considerable time before she gets her house, and she uses numerous stratagems to remind the King of the fact. In Anna And The King, she gets her house rather more easily. In The King & I, the first school lesson becomes a song (Getting to Know You). In Anna And The King, it involves a scuffle between her son and the crown prince, which becomes a test of wills between her and the prince. I was amused to note that both Deborah Kerr and Jodie Foster played Anna Leonowens as a redhead - appropriate to her temper, perhaps? I was also amused to note that Jodie Foster's hoop skirts were of considerably smaller circumference.
Anna And The King features the same elaborate dinner that is a centrepiece of The King & I, but the entertainment provided is very different. In The King & I, there is a presentation of Uncle Tom's Cabin as interpreted by Lady Tuptim. In Anna And The King, the King's children sing "A Bicycle Built For Two". Yul Brunner and Deborah Kerr dance what I believe is a polka to "Shall We Dance". Chow Yun Fat and Jodie Foster dance a waltz.
Having mentioned Uncle Tom's Cabin, I should remark that the book appears quite differently in the two movies. In The King & I, Anna gives it to Lady Tuptim. In Anna And The King she gives it to the crown prince, and the king teaches her a lesson about it.
The politics and intrigue is more sinister in Anna And The King. Although the plot thread concerning the traitor/usurper is completely fabricated, it is fact that Siam had 55 civil wars in the 19th Century, so it is not unreasonable.
It is not surprising that Anna And The King is more realistic - it is hardly realistic to burst into song at intervals - but the realism goes deeper than that. In The King & I, Yul Brunner plays an arrogant and arbitrary man, and something of a buffoon. The ending of The King & I strongly suggests that the king dies of a broken heart. Chow Yun Fat's King is a strong man, but neither arrogant nor arbitrary. He is a complex man, loving his children, having visionary plans for advancing his country, and yet realistic about the amount of change he can force. A number of events make far more sense in Anna And The King. The most obvious of these is the thread involving Lady Tuptim. Yul Brunner's King is about to whip her when Anna intervenes; resulting in a shattering of the king's ego, which seemed excessive even as I watched it. In Anna And The King, Tuptim is caned during her trial (there is a trial, not summary judgement), and Anna intervenes. Chow Yun Fat's King is not present during the trial. He remonstrates with Anna afterwards, and points out that he cannot act to ameliorate Tuptim's punishment after Anna's outburst - this seems far more reasonable, and shows that the King is quite aware of the limits on his ability to effect change.
I found Anna And The King far more satisfying dramatically, and not offensive in the way I thought The King & I could be seen. I wonder if that indicates how much times have changed between the making of the two films? In the commentary, the director mentions that The King & I is still banned in Thailand, but Anna And The King has been viewed by members of the Thai royal family, who unofficially approved of it.
I liked this movie. If you like historical drama, then you may like it too. This DVD gives you every chance to do so, because it is superbly made.
The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which is the theatrical aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.
This is a sharp, detailed transfer with excellent shadow detail, even in scenes set at dusk. There is no low-level noise to be seen.
There is a lot of colour in this movie. Deep greens feature in the Thai (Malaysian) jungle, strong reds and golds feature in a lot of the clothing. The palette is rich, but not oversaturated.
This film is artefact free, as you might expect from a movie made a little over a year ago.
There are a number of scenes where the dialogue is in Thai. At these times, English subtitles appear, if you have no other subtitles displayed. This is good, because a couple of vital plot points are revealed during these sequences.
This disc is an RSDL-formatted disc, with the layer change at 64:47. It is well placed, and not at all disruptive.
There are two audio tracks on this DVD. The soundtrack is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1. The Audio Commentary is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded. I listened to both soundtracks.
Dialogue is clear and readily understood. Subtitles (in English) were provided for most of the dialogue in Thai. These subtitles were not burned into the film, so watching with subtitles in another language was fine.
There were no audio sync problems. The commentary mentioned a fair bit of ADR work, but it has been done without visible sync issues.
The score is epic, as is appropriate for this film. George Fenton has done a good job of fitting the music to the mood of each scene. I didn't notice the music the first time through, which I consider a tribute to his work - it is inappropriate music that is most noticeable. As is common in modern films, the feature song ran over the end credits - it was the only piece of the music I didn't like.
The surround speakers were used extensively for ambient sound. At one point I was sure that the rain in the film was being supplemented by nature outside - I paused the movie and discovered that it was an illusion - that's how immersive the surround sound feels.
The sound extends well into the deep ranges. The subwoofer is used to support both the music and the sound effects, but is integrated perfectly - at no point was I aware of the subwoofer as such.
|Surround Channel Use|
I recommend that you listen to this commentary after watching the film. It's a big commitment - the film is 142 minutes long - but if you have an interest in film-making, and the truth behind this story, then you will get a lot out of this commentary.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 disc misses out on:
The deleted scenes make interesting viewing, although I agree that they were rightly removed - they can be viewed with or without the director's commentary. I would have liked to have had them on the R4 disc. In fact, I'd rather have them than the featurette.
In the end it comes down to a decision as to whether you consider the deleted scenes are more important to you than the PAL transfer. I feel that you may watch the movie many times, but you'll probably only watch the deleted scenes once - I'd award the gold-plated doohickey to the Region 4.
The video quality is superb, and is of reference quality.
The audio quality is superb, and is of reference quality.
The extras are good, although I would have liked to have the deleted scenes, too. The director's commentary is very good indeed.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-737, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics matte white screen with a gain of 1.0 (280cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|