All parent member reviews for Anna and the King

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Educator and Parent Written byCommonSenseChristian May 4, 2014
 

A Multifacted Jewel of a Film with a Few Rough Edges

Based somewhat on The King and I, this more epic Hollywood version leaves out the songs, but stays true to the characters of Anna and Siam's king. When Anna comes to 1860s Siam to teach the king's horde of children (more than sixty) and flock of wives, she's in for the culture shock of her life. The king, too, has some of his long-held ideas and traditions challenged, and while his responses aren't always positive, they do give us insight into a dynamic monarch. Positive elements include Anna's intelligence and compassion, as well as her willingness to attempt to accept Siamese culture as is, though at times this doesn't work out well because of some of said culture's more negative aspects. The romance between Anna and the king is tender, though complicated for obvious reasons. And, if you're a visual person, your eyes will find plenty to feast upon in the sets, jungle scenery, and costumes. There's also great discussion fodder present in contrasts between Buddhism and Christianity, two cultures' treatment of women, and more. The major obstacle for families in this film is violence. It isn't set during wartime, but one of the king's scheming relatives provides the impetus for plenty of bloodshed. An early disturbing scene has several bodies hanging from trees and a half-naked woman mourning over them. Other violent moments include an assassination attempt, a gunshot and bloodstained curtain (no victim shown onscreen) and an exploding bridge. Even more disconcerting is the direct violence toward human beings. A slave, naked and filthy, is left chained outside. A woman who ran away to be with her lover is chained, caned, and publicly beheaded (all but the actual beheading is shown, including executioners circling menacingly with swords). Anna stands up for these people and others, but unfortunately, her fortitude doesn't bring about obvious change. Other caveats include the death of a young girl, ominous chanting, and a moment where Anna's son and a young prince decide to try smoking (they're promptly turned off). Anna also has something of an imperialist attitude, but this mellows somewhat. In general, this film is complicated and emotion-filled, but well worth a viewing for adults and older kids.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence