Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Last King of Scotland

The movie is inspired by true historical events, however some of the characters shown on the movie, such as Dr. Garrigan, are fictious. In addition, the movie is very different from the book – didn’t ruin the story, though! The movie, as many already seen and read previews is about the Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin (1925-2003) from the day he took power in 1970 until 1976 when the Entebbe hijacking event took place. Forest Whitaker, who plays Amin in the movie, deserves a big salute for that role. He received considerable critical acclaim, winning the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and the BAFTA Award, for best actor in addition to awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review and many other critics awards. The film further received BAFTA awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best British Film, in addition to receiving nominations for Best Supporting Actor, James McAvoy (who played the role of Dr. Garrigan) and Best Film.

Anyone familiar with the history of Uganda under the rule of Idi Amin might notice how events were chronically smartly put in a very fast pace. In fact, the whole movie from the beginning till the end does not give a chance for the viewer to take a breath, because of its fast rhythm and suspense in the 121 minutes of its total running time. However, even for those who are not familiar with Uganda and its history, the movie is regarded as an educative show about that African country and how it has been ruled in early 1970s.

One of the nicest things about the movie is the way it has been filmed. I believe that the director of the film wanted it to be like a documentary. In addition, the colors, techniques and methods used in making this movie gave the impression that the movie was made during the 1970s and not in 2006. It was not meant to be filmed as a typical Hollywood movie (actually the movie is British) where many fixed cameras shooting from different angels, or using other advanced technology in today's movie making. Throughout the movie, I wondered if they only used one camera (or merely two) on certain scenes! On many scenes throughout the movie, the camera suddenly jerks off from the main frame of that scene, became blurring for a second then zoomed onto a sort of symbolic gesture or a movement, such as a finger pointing into a direction, or a hand resting on a shoulder, and with a semi-shaky movement, the camera settles on that close up and remains focus that way until the end of the scene! There is an empahzise on many parts of the movie on body movement, or shall I say body language, rather than relying on the dialogue or action scenes.

It really gave extra pleasure and joy watching the movie that way.

The movie also showed the development of the other main character beside Amin; Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, who was intentionally (or not!) has been transformed from a simple (or shall I say reckless) adventurous type of person, who is always walking with a big charming smile on his face, a womanizer who’s sexual lust did not have any moral or ethical drawback. This young physician was transformed chaotically into a political tool within the Ugandan political system.

After watching the movie, I began to have doubts if all third world leaders have copied their Curriculum Vitae from each other, especially when representing themselves as revolutionary; have similar background by coming from families suffered poor economic situation; and most of them were enrolled into the military academy; promise their people prosperity in the early days of taking power, but show the contrast in later years…etc All dictators seems to follow the same trends and course in their rule. While watching the movie and after it ended I couldn’t stop thinking how many similarities are there between Idi Amin and Saddam Hussain; his feeling of mistrust towards anyone and everyone, and that mindset that “everyone wants to kill me” type of thing. Amin’s ego is also very clearly and perfectly seen in the movie; of regarding himself as the symbol of Uganda, which means that if a person does not love Idi Amin, then that person doesn’t love Uganda (this would regard that person an enemy of Uganda and deserve to die). There are other similarities such as the recruitment of doubles, and not to forget the brutality where thousands and thousands of people from all different sectors of life applied to by this regime.

Here is another link, to the Wikipedia article about the movie. It contains spoliers so it will be more enjoyable if you read it after watching the movie.

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