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Word Count: 305
The story of Anna Leonowens the strong minded widowed British governess who travelled to Siam in the mid-1800s to educate the kings many children has been told in film many times before The most famous incarnation of this story is Rogers and Hammersteins musical The King And I in which Yul Brynner virtually made the role of the despotic but benevolent king his own and its subsequent tv spin off The story was previously filmed in 1946s non-musical Anna And The King Of Siam and more recently as a bland animated musical Director Andy Tennant who magnificently reinvigorated the Cinderella story in the recent Ever After takes the familiar story and breathes new life into the material in this lavish epic version Jodie Foster essays the role of the outspoken Anna who arrives in Thailand from colonial India to educate the heir to the throne in modern concepts She eventually charms and influences the king anxious to maintain a delicate balance between tradition and the future yet ensure his countrys continued independence amidst colonial expansion into Asia It is not clear whether Tennant whose credits also include the bland romantic comedy Fools Rush In was trying to create a lush epic in the David Lean tradition here but his direction is a little uneven The films second half heads into boys own adventure mode with its subplot involving an attempted coup and treachery threatening the palace The intrigue is resolved in a spectacular if contrived climactic Bridge On The River Kwai-like confrontation PhilaFlava While Anna And The King explores broader themes of colonialism tradition and the clash of cultures its treatment is nonetheless rather superficial The film lacks enough dramatic confrontations and clashes between the headstrong Anna and the king to sustain tension and thus hold the audiences interest for its generous running time
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