Here the lead actor, Yule Brynner’s role, portrays Thailand’s legendary monarch, King Mongkut, who had opened the doors of his country, to welcome the entry of western influences during his reign in the 1860s. However, the movie, which is an adaptation of the book ‘Anna and the King of Siam’ by Margaret Landon, shows a lack of in-depth research work and limited knowledge on Thai history and culture, has a tendency to highlight dramatic considerations, and being too Eurocentric, fails to depict the country’s history authentically. This article will do a film review on “The King and me” and examine how ‘orientalism’ is represented in this movie. It will explore the notions of ‘orientalism’ as given by Edward Said, and will study the movie in this respect. It will also examine the post-war theory of modernization, which is very evidently represented in this movie.
Postwar theory of modernization in the movie: King Mongkut, a renowned monarch of Thailand, has always been ‘an usually attractive subject to study’, and is generally considered to be ‘a pivotal one in Thai history’ (Wilson, 164). The movie is based on a romantic relationship that develops between Anna Leonowens and King Mongkut, and it depicts the issue of modernization quite clearly. It shows certain nuances of reality, by depicting the pros and cons of trying to adapt to a new culture, as the king opens the door for the western world to enter. The movie shows Anna Leonowens, a highly specialized English-American school teacher, who is hired by the king to teach the royal children western thoughts and etiquette. As she initially crosses sword with the king, the movie shows how Anna saves the country from the tyranny of the nonwestern ruler, by imbibing American modern values within him, thus ‘modernizing’ him in the process.