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Anna and the King

Arista Records (730082607520)
Movie | Released: 1999 | Film release: 1999 | Format: CD

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# Track Artist/Composer Duration
1.How Can I Not Love YouJoy Enriquez4:34
2.Arrival At The Palace (Main Theme Title)6:00
3.Meeting The Children1:32
5.Letter Of The Week1:38
6.House, The1:38
7.Rice Festival, The4:23
8.Rajah Attack0:58
9.Anniversary Polka3:20
10.I Am King, I Shall Lead2:28
11.Flowers On The Water4:22
12.Moonlit Beach1:42
14.Chowfa's Death1:28
15.Execution, The4:19
16.Anna Returns3:44
17.Bridge, The6:42
18.I Have Danced With A King6:17
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Anna and the King - 08/10 - Review of Tom Daish, submitted at
These days there are very few films that require grand, broad, epic scores and even fewer composers who can do them well; I would suggest that among the composers working today, John Williams' is perhaps the master, but to be fair, Star Wars could be considered epic, but in a different way to the broad historical epics of the years of Miklos Rozsa and Alfred Newman. However, the only (young) composer who seems to get regular assignments for old fashioned epics (most notably through his work with Richard Attenborough) is George Fenton and Anna and the King is another excellent notch in his rather impressive career.

Anna and the King is a song-free remake of the musical The King and I (which was also recently made into a hideous animated version). Obviously the lack of songs means it takes on a more serious tone and the score is not directed by the requirement to work in song themes. The album actually begins with a song, How Can I Not Love You - not the most wonderful title in the world, but a rather nice ballad that doesn't sound too out of place against the rest of the score, even if I'm not entirely sure that it was necessary. The score proper starts with the rather wonderful Arrival at the Palace which introduces the main theme, which is a fairly noble, but slightly downbeat love theme. It is given a grand statement here, but is much more subdued in most of the later cues.

The exotic locale for the film ensures the hint of ethnic colouring, which is subtle but extremely effective and brings back fond memories of the more subdued moments of Goldsmith's excellent Mulan. The score starts to pick up during the Rice Festival where the colourings are stronger and there is a little more movement in the music. Rajah Attack is a very brief, suspenseful and percussive cue that is immediately quashed by the wonderful Anniversary Polka and I am King, I Shall Lead, both of which are quite charming dances. Graceful and delightful, while still being more romantic than classical.

The latter parts of the score contain the more dramatic sections of the score such as the exciting Betrayed and mournful Chowfa's Death. These moemnts are followed by the highlight of the album, The Execution. Beginning with a lovely piano rendition of the love theme set to a heart breaking string counterpoint, it is completed with an oriental violin solo. A delicately wrought cue that belies the brutal title. The Bridge is a dark and dissonent action cue that features some of the most starkly dramatic music of the score. Of course the finale cue reprises the major themes and after a quiet start introduces the brass for a rousing conclusion.

On the whole an extremely good score, even if I couldn't help but feel that a little light pruning in the first half might have helped the album move along a little better. There was a tendancy toward being a fraction over subdued, especially compared to the dynamic and changing moods of the remaining music. In common with many epic films, the story is not really about the big picture, but about the two central characters and therefore this is much more of a talky film and talky films do not often a great soundtrack make. There is no denying the effectiveness of Fenton's music and one plus about the general level of restraint is that it ensures the bolder musical statements are even more dramatic and effective.
Golden Globes: Best Original Score (Nominee)


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