The King and I (1956)

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July 2, 2012 by mamie

—3 STARS— 

So… with this movie, I was expecting a whole lot because of course, it’s Rodgers and Hammerstein. I was sad though, because I was finding myself so embarrassed through the whole thing that I could barely enjoy it. What was frustrating me so much is that everything was so politically incorrect. Laugh at me, yes, because it was the ’50s, which was a while ago from now and a time with somewhat different ideas, but it still made me knock the movie down a little on my list of high regard. What bothered me the most was that the story claimed that a few of the Siamese nobles knew English and had studied the language for years, yet the script was set so that the Siamese spoke in fragments, leaving out much needed articles in their sentences and sounding very much inferior. Also, the king of Siam’s character was presented as a very shallow, flaky, uncultured man with no political sense. The musical made it seem that the only laws that mattered to the government were the silly ones about bowing and head height in reference to the king’s. I would have appreciated it more if more credit was given to these people. I know it’s a musical, but couldn’t the writers have done a little more research or something? I do have to say, though, that in the area of costumes, music, and dancing, the musical did very well. My two favorite numbers were the famous “Getting to Know You” song and the adaptation play of Uncle Tom’s Cabin that one of the King’s ladies wrote. There, at least, they showed some interesting parts of Siamese culture in a respectful light. One thing that left me hanging soon after that, though, was the death of the Burmese lady’s suitor. I didn’t really understand how that ended… All in all, I was glad to see one of the classic musicals, but I certainly don’t feel that it is on the same level as some of my favorite shows, like The Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof.

Reminded me of: Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The White Man’s Burden” and the book The Little Princess

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