"It is always surprising how small a part of life is taken up by meaningful moments. Most often they are over before they start although they cast a light on the future and make the person who originated them unforgettable. Anna had shined such a light on Siam."
Those were the words of the heir to the throne of Siam, the narrator in this epic drama, Prince Chulolongkorn. A movie, very close to my heart, it portrays the love between the King of Siam and an Englishwoman, a tutor, who comes to Siam to educate the King's children as a part of the modernization efforts.
King Mongkut is the kind of King every country will be proud of, progressive, loves his country, is a caring father not only to his own children, but to the entire nation; while Anna, a widowed Englishwoman, is the perfect teacher, straight-forward, kind, wise, and, dignified. The hier apparent is no less in character. He already shows the making of a great king.
The teacher is quick to react to the cultural practices of her new abode, but extermely naive in the realm of politics. Her proximity to the King undermines the latter's status, leading to the death of two of his subjects. Nevertheless, she also becomes an instrument in improving Siam's foreign relations and also saves Siam from its traitors. In time, her teachings also led to the abolition of slavery.
Based on true life story, from Anna's diary, the movie is seen through the young prince's lens, and their subsequent influence during his reign. The times are not as progressive as the minds of the two characters, hence it becomes a story of long lasting love that can never be legitimized. The cast of characters is flawless. Chow Yun Fat as King Mongkut is brilliant. He speaks through his eyes, and is matched in his skills by Anna, played by Jodie Foster. Their relationship is so warm and intimate, you would want one to experience one such moment yourself.
The movie has been shot in the islands of Malaysia. Langakwi, is one such island, which is also a hot tourist destination, has retained the palace constructed for the movie. The cinematography is exceptionally brilliant. You are also guaranteed to fall in love with the children, especially the little princess with her innocent eyes and guileless smile. For a King who lives with so many concubines and procreates for the preservation of his dynasty, the contrasting end left a long lasting impact.
It is these last lines in the movie that continues to live in my heart. As they dance, Mongkut tells Anna, "Until now, I did not understand the postion, that man could be satisfied with only woman".