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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
The King and I
Directed by Richard Rich
Warner Bros. 03/98 DVD/VHS Animated Film
This mildly interesting animated feature adaptation of the classic Broadway play is carried mainly by the melodic and lyrically vibrant music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Hearing "I Whistle a Happy Tune," "Hello, Young Lovers," "Getting To Know You," and "Shall We Dance," the viewer is transported to the royal court of Siam where the King (Martin Vidnovic) awaits the arrival of Anna (voice of Miranda Richardson, sung by Christiane Noll), a British governess who has been hired to teach his children. A court official, the Kralahome (Ian Richardson), sets in motion his plans to dethrone the king. He is assisted by Master Little (Darrell Hammond), a bumbling and dim-witted servant. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince (Allen D. Hong, sung by David Burnham) falls in love with a servant girl (Armi Arabe, sung by Tracy Venner Warren) an act that is sure to get him in trouble with his tradition-bound father.
Director Richard Rich keeps the cross-cultural theme afloat amidst the busy storyline and formulaic animal antics aimed at youngsters in the audience. The constant clash between the strong-willed Anna and the stubborn King eventually gives way to friendship and mutual respect. This resolution sends a fine message for children in a world where differences in beliefs and practices are too often used as an easy excuse for rejection, if not downright persecution.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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