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Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 12:51 GMT
Anna and the King's Thai ban

Jodie Foster plays governess Anna Leonowens in the remake


Thailand's film censors say they intend to ban Jodie Foster's latest film, Anna and the King, which is considered disrespectful to the country's royal family.

An official from Thailand's National Film Board said the movie - a remake of the 1946 feature starring Rex Harrison and Irene Dunne - contained "several inappropriate scenes" in its portrayal of the king and the Thai dynasty.

The official said that the committee of the film board had made its decision following an initial review of the film two weeks ago. The same spokesperson added that the committee would be unlikely to change its mind at a later date.

Troubled history

The ban means that Thais will only be able to see the movie - which opened in Hong Kong on Tuesday - if they watch it on imported videos.

The statement from the film board is the Thai government's latest show of disapproval for the movie that tells the story of the Victorian English teacher Anna Leonowens who was employed to teach the 58 children of King Rama IV.


The remake is still thought to portray the king as a fool
Last week, the Thai film censors published a book defending their decision to ban the filming of the movie in Thailand. Instead the film's Hollywood studio - Twentienth Century Fox - ended up shooting in neighbouring Malaysia.

The Thai authorities do not want to have anything to do with Anna and the King because they believe it portrays their 19th century king as foolish.

The original 1946 film was adapted from the stage play of Margaret Landon's 1944 book Anna and the King of Siam. The book claims to recount the experiences of the British governess Leonowens.

The book was also adapted into a stage musical called the King and I which was then made into the 1956 movie starring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. This was also banned in Thailand for the same reason.

Improvements made

Critics say that the original movie script exaggerated Leonowens's influence on the king, who is respected for his efforts to modernise old Siam and open it to the outside world.

The director of the new film, Andy Tennant, said the finished version was presented to the Thai royal family last weekend.


Producers say the new king is an improvement on Hollywood's original
He said changes had been made since it was first rejected by the Thai film board - and its characterisation of the king was certainly a great improvement on the one played by Yul Brynner in the King and I.

Another Twentieth Century Fox movie which has caused a stir in Thailand is The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Filmed on location in Thailand, its production was the centre of months of protest by environmentalists who claimed it had destroyed a pristine beach at a Thai national park.

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See also:
04 May 99 |  Entertainment
King And I remake in new row
05 Nov 98 |  Entertainment
Last chance for Anna and the King
10 Nov 98 |  Entertainment
Row over King and I movie
19 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
DiCaprio film trial begins

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