12 thoughts on “The King and I”

  1. Levent. So do I.

    He held debates with the French cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pallegoix and the American Protestnat missionaries Dr Caswell and Dr Bradley. He said to Christian priests “I think what you teach people to do is admirable but what you teach them to believe in is stupid”.

    But, mostly, the rest of it too. Other movies with the same taint and much worse effect; ‘Birth of a Nation,’ and ‘Gone with the Wind.’

  2. The inaccuracies begin with the original story told by Leonowens, who was a free-wheeling storyteller:

    From the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/1996/04/07/theater/theather-a-confection-built-on-a-novel-built-on-a-fabrication.html?sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all)

    “The show’s script, however, is based on a 1943 best-selling novel, “Anna and the King of Siam,” by Margaret Landon, which itself was loosely based on Anna Leonowens’s two books, “The English Governess at the Siamese Court” (1870) and “The Romance of the Harem” (1873). Both are full of historical errors, beginning with the title of governess, since the King’s diaries make clear that Anna was hired only as a teacher of English.

    William Warren, a longtime American scholar of Thailand, said Anna’s worst errors were in the second book, when her need to publish began to outrun her experiences. She asserts that the King threw wives who displeased him into dungeons and that he ordered the public torture and burning of a consort and the monk with whom she had fallen in love, an incident that Anna claims to have witnessed and which serves as the model for the Tuptim episode in the musical.

    BUT BANGKOK’S WATERY soil could support no dungeons or even basements, nor, Mr. Warren notes, is there mention of a public burning in domestic or foreign accounts of the time. As one of the king’s biographers, Alexander Griswold wrote about Anna, “Virtue was not unknown in Siam before her arrival, and a cool assessment suggests that she did not loom very large in the life of King Mongkut or his children.”

  3. Since there seems to be agreement so far on this one, and while we’re on such themes in movies, I would be interested in what our ZA blogers think of ‘Zulu?’ Given the limtations of the need to sell the film, I thought the Zulus came out rather well?

  4. PS. I used to visit Thailand quite regularly on business, every couple of months or so. Lovely people, the Thais, bloody awful climate, though.

  5. I have seen the film and disliked it and had rather assumed there was no historical truth in whatever. So I was wrong, in that here really was a person who was an English tutor, albeit one with ideas way above her station…..

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