King Won't Sing
Anna and the
The holiday season of 1999 was blitzed by a host of noteworthy movies with accompanying noteworthy scores. Among them is George Fenton’s score to the highly anticipated film Anna and the King. The film takes a different approach to telling the story of Anna from the Roger and Hammerstein’s musical classic. Similarly, the score takes on a more authentic approach with orient-flavored woodwinds, percussions, and strings.
at the preview trailer back in May of
1999, I took note of the stunning music
used (I later found out to be Kitaro’s
score for the 1993 film of Heaven and Earth)
and could only hope that the film’s
composer would meet such levels of
Fenton delivers! The film is much more
dramatic than the musical and while this
King won't sing, it still sounds good -
thanks to Fenton.
Fenton delivers! The film is much more dramatic than the musical and while this King won't sing, it still sounds good - thanks to Fenton.
score released by LaFace
Records unfortunately begins
with highly marketable
pop-end-credits-tune produced by Babyface.
I say “unfortunately,” simply
because of its order of appearance. These cuts usually fit
best at the end of the CD. It is a decent song, built from
the tried-and-true top-forty formula of
the nineties. The melody of this pop
song is derived from the main theme in
Fenton orchestral score. By
now, film score fans should have accepted
the fact that a pop tune played over the
end credits is a given for most highly
In any event, one might hope to keep such
tracks relegated to the easily skipped
Fenton has surely demonstrated his talent
for the romantic drama with his work for
films like Dangerous Beauty and Ever
After. With Anna and
the King, he raises his level expertise by a notch or two.
The Golden Globies have already
taken note of it and the Academy is likely
to as well.
might say this score never reaches
full-flight, but it can also be said that
this score never becomes overbearing or
predictable which usually leads to
infrequent insertions into the CD player. Fenton
captures a myriad of emotions from the
gorgeous, The Rice Festival (track
7), to the heartbreaking Flowers on
the Water (track 11), to the menacing
Rajah Attack (track 8) . All the
while, Fenton does not evoke the “I’ve
heard this before” listener reaction.
Nearly every track features the distinct
sounds of the Chinese violin, the huqin,
played by Tiffany Yi Hu. A true joy
to listen to.
Nearly every track features the distinct sounds of the Chinese violin, the huqin, played by Tiffany Yi Hu. A true joy to listen to.
dramatic element is increased a great deal
in this film compared to the musical
version and these changes provide Fenton
with the opportunity to put some punch
into the score. Much
more serious elements in the film warrant
much more serious, rather intense, music
which serves to offset the more
sentimental tracks nicely.
Tracks such as Chowfa's Death (track 14),
and The Bridge (track 17) are prime
Tracks such as Chowfa's Death (track 14), and The Bridge (track 17) are prime examples.
Also, found within the score are two tracks that are purely European, a waltz, "I am King. I Shall Lead," and a polka, Anniversary Polka. Each of these tracks provide an interesting diversion without crossing the line of musical interruption.
George Fenton has truly done a marvelous job with this score. With the pressures of the famous musical, The King and I, on both film director and composer, the product produced could have been much less original. What will the audience remember if this King isn't singing? Well, at the very least, film music fans won't soon forget this effort from Fenton.
Track Listing and Ratings
Copyright ©1998 - 2009. Tracksounds: The Film Music Experience. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in any form. All compact disc artwork is property of the specified record label and appears here for informational purposes only. All sound clips are in Real Audio format or mp3 and are the exclusive property of their respective record labels. Contact the Webmaster