THE LATE LATE REVIEW: THE KING AND I

For this week’s Late Late Review Tom’s finally enjoyed the bank holiday classic musical, The King & I, and here’s what he thought to the songs, the story, etc. etc. etc.

Release Date: 1956

Awards: Nominated for nine Oscars, won Best Actor, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture and Sound recording. Also won Best Motion Picture and Best Actress at the Golden Globes too. NBD.

Rating: 7.5/10 on IMDb and a whopping 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, I think it’s hard to overstate the popularity of this one!

The King and I is based on the memoirs of Anna Leonowens who became a tutor to the children of King Mongkut of Siam (now Thailand) in the 1860s. I should say “loosely based” because I’m fairly certain the majority of his court was actually from Siam, which is more than can be said for most of this cast. Yul Brynner who plays the king was from Russia, and Rita Moreno who plays Tuptim (who is meant to be from Burma) is Puerto Rican… At least it can be said that Deborah Kerr was the right ethnicity to play Anna.

Let’s get this out of the way nice and early, shall we? If this movie came out now with this casting, there would be absolute uproar. It has a lot of pretty offensive stereotypes, but that’s kinda how Hollywood worked I guess. It also should be mentioned that the film was (and still is) banned in Thailand because of the representation of King Mongkut. That goes for most other adaptations of Anna’s story though.

That said, the movie is really quite adorable. With some absolute cracking songs which I think it’s fair to say that most people would be at least slightly familiar with. Getting to Know You and Shall We Dance? are songs which I had definitely heard at least part of prior to watching.

Part of the film is taken up by Tuptim’s traditional Siamese ballet version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a story about a slave who escapes her master to find the man she loves. This is done as it reflects Tuptim’s feelings on her own situation. Having no previous experience of the story telling medium, I can’t say it’s an accurate portrayal, but it does feel like a respectful and even celebratory rendition of the style of ballet. I’m sure that someone can correct me if this isn’t the case, but I found it fascinating and beautiful nonetheless.

It’s a film about two cultures colliding, and while it can’t be repeated enough that it’s quite a stereotypical portrayal at times, it’s still a great storyline which is full of tension, but also people learning from each other.

If you haven’t caught this movie, it’s a great Sunday afternoon film. It’s really sweet and well worth a watch!

Is there an iconic film or album you think I should have experienced by now? Let me know @MoveToTRASHUK #latelatereview

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