ANNA AND THE KING
About The Production
After scouting locations throughout
Asia, including Bali and Borneo, the filmmakers decided to shoot in Malaysia.
Cameras rolled throughout the country, including Penang Port Sdn. Bhd., the
beaches and terrain of lush Langkawi island, and the quaint jungle villages
surrounding southern Ipoh.
Like any epic film, "Anna and the
King" features enormous sets and set pieces. Thousands of extras and a
virtual menagerie of animals were utilized in the film's many scenes of
pageantry, providing all sorts of logistical nightmares. "I knew it was
going to be a tough shoot in terms of the heat and logistics," says Andy
Tennant. "But I really had no idea of how difficult. Many times we
were working in 120 degree heat, with bugs, elephants, horses, multiple cameras,
helicopters. I can do it for a week — but for six months? That took some
getting used to."
Standing out among the film's sets is
the king's palace, described in the screenplay as a "multi-colored
bastion of extraordinary architecture encompassing over 20 square blocks ... a
city within a city ... an enchanted panorama of lofty spires and gilded edifices
reflecting the glory that was Siam."
Says Tennant, "Our biggest
challenge was to create a palace that didn't feel like a sound stage. The
palace is one of the stars of the movie. If you have to send Dorothy to the
Wizard of Oz, you have to build Oz, and that is what we tried to do."
"The actual palace in Bangkok is
rich, glittering in gold and jeweled colors," adds Oscar-winning production
designer Luciana Arrighi. "Our goal when building the palace set was to
bring Andy's vision to life. Using practical elements and CGI images, we
created a strange and exotic sight previously unseen by movie audiences."
At the Clearwater Sanctuary Golf
Resort, a 350-acre property on the outskirts of Ipoh in Perak, Malaysia, a
construction crew numbering close to 1300, including sculptors, painters and
other artists and laborers, worked from dawn to dusk creating the palace, a
seven-acre wonder — the largest set constructed from scratch for a film since
While building the palace, the crew
went through seven thousand sheets of plywood, four thousand square meters of
marble, five million nails, one hundred million staples, and consumed forty-five
thousand 1.5 liters of bottled water as they worked. All of the hard work
created not only structures that glittered with gold, but harmonious gardens
that real birds, insects and reptiles now called their home.
The attention to detail was just as
impressive as the set's scale. Twenty local Malay students spent every day
hand laying minuscule blue, green, red, gold, and silver mirrored tile
throughout the palace complex and on mosaic encrusted columns of the Temple of
the Emerald Buddha, making it sparkle.
Thai sculptors and painters were hired
to authentically recreate traditional Thai sculptures, like the hundred-plus
Gurudas that protected the Emerald Buddha Temple and Chedi Terraces, and larger
than life murals lining the walls and ceilings of the king's and Kralahome's
study and the cloisters. Comments Arrighi, "Thai sculptors and painters
have an artistic sensibility I have never seen before. They are able to create
design accurately and uniquely in such a casual and quick way. It was amazing to
watch them work."
The palace proudly displayed religious
symbols borrowed from the Hin
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