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"Look at you. Is there one thing you have done that is good? Did you think this was all a game? 'I will go to Africa and I will play the white man with the natives.' Is that what you thought? We are not a game, Nicholas. We are real."
The ever-knowledgeable wiki states that Idi Amin referred to himself as "His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular" This would have a been a rather long-winded and frankly rubbish title for a film, so instead they opted for another of his moniker's "The Last King of Scotland". Whilst this may conjure up slightly misleading images of face paint, kilts and (infinitely more disturbingly) Mel Gibson, this title was slightly catchier and probably fitted onto the posters better.
What the former does, however, is give somewhat more of an insight into the character of Amin. This was a guy dangerously full of his own self-importance. Egotistical, eccentric, given to bouts of childish rage; these might be fine for the manager of Manchester United, when these are qualities used to describe the leader of an African country, the ramifications are infinitely more disturbing.
Our story begins in 1970s Scotland. Newly graduated doctor, Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), seemingly terrified by the thought he could end up like his staid and controlling doctor-father, decides to make a break for freedom. Spinning a globe, he decides wherever his finger lands will be his destination. His first attempt is Canada (which would have resulted in a rather different film). After spinning again his finger lands on Uganda.
Uganda proves to be everything Garrigan wanted; colourful, vibrant and exciting. He takes on a role in a rural clinic where 80% of the villagers have more faith in the local witch-doctor than "proper" medicine. Whilst he is there, a coup takes place to overthrow the current president and Garrigan ends up at a rally for the new president Idi Amin. (Forest Whitaker).
Garrigan is overwhelmed by the experience and by this larger-than-life character. Charismatic, articulate and seemingly deeply caring, the President leaves a huge impression both on Garrigan, who sees in him everything lacking in his own father, himself and by the high-spirited crowd that hang on to his every word. A chain of events results in Garrigan meeting and treating the President for an injury. Garrigan seems smitten and the President takes a liking to this intelligent and fiery young man, whose Scottish roots he can identify with as he sees a link between his own people and the oppressed Scots and also because of his experiences in the British army.
Eventually Garrigan is offered a job as the President's chief physician. Amin is not a man to say no to, and, after initial reservations, the doctor accepts. What follows is a bewildering and devastating realisation for the doctor who finds himself caught up in a conflict he cannot control and out of his depth in a world he cannot understand. There is a darker side to the seemingly affable President Amin, and it seems that in fleeing from his own father into the arms of the father of the nation, he may well have escaped the frying pan and leapt into the fires of hell itself.
The Last King of Scotland, a 2006 British drama based on Giles Foden's novel of the same name and directed by Kevin Macdonald, is a mainly fictional piece based on the life and times of the murderous dictator Idi Amin, whose atrocities (perpetrated mainly on his own people) mark him out as one of the most violent, powerful and darkly insane historical figures of all time. A real life villain, Amin fed his opponents to crocodiles, massacred as many as half a million of his own people and invited our very own Queen Liz to Uganda to "meet a real man". Whatever would Phillip say?
Forest Whitaker, winning a deserved first Oscar, is awesome in this film; this is truly is one of the finest performances of its type I've seen. The two sides of his character leave both the viewer and the doctor on a knife-age; at one point cuddly teddy bear with childish enthusiasm, naivety and love of life, the next a cold-blooded mass-murdering dictator. Incredibly, Whitaker wasn't the director's first choice to play this, a role he seems born to. His lazy eye stares calmly, almost snake-like his prey; his other eye rolls around crazily like a drunken marble. His presence on the screen is incendiary, powerful and mesmorising. His bulky frame fills the screen, his personality fills the film.
Amin is power personified; lives hang on his whim, fortunes can be made and lost on his word. He seems almost a random force of nature. He calls himself the father of Africa, but as Garrigan finally realises; the scariest thing is that he is actually a 20-stone child - his sulky tantrums add a tense and violent edge to the film.
Amin's meeting with Garrigan sets the tone perfectly. Garrigan, frustrated by a dying cow's noise whilst he is trying to treat Amin's injury, grabs the dictator's own pistol and puts the animal out of its misery. With ten machine guns pointing at him, Garrigan's life hangs in the balance as he tries to explain himself to the furious Amin. The atmosphere, as at so many points during the film, is unbearably tense. When Amin realises the doctor is Scottish, there is an immediate and bewildering change in his chacacter and he suddenly becomes the benevolent uncle character. Amin loves the Scottish people "Except for the red hair, which I'm sure is attractive to your women, but which we Africans, we find is quite disgusting" and takes immediately to the doctor.
Amin's relationship with Garrigan develops as the president starts to loose his sanity, and Garrigan finds himself in the unenviable and bewildering position of being the only man the president can trust. Despite Amin's seeming naievity, he has a cold and manipulative side, making the young doctor's position all the more vulnerable
McAvoy, playing the film's protagonist, spends the majority of the time in Whitaker's immense shadow but that's kind of the point; he plays a character who is out of his depth, digging himself deeper and deeper into the self-made hole he has found himself in. A fun-loving, womanising thrill seeker, Garrigan is essentially a decent guy in horrific circumstances and facing moral dilemmas beyond his own imagination. The skill behind the performance is that we see the mistakes he makes but realise; yeah, in the same circumstances we might have made them too. Garrigan is out for a good time, maybe to do a bit of good along the way, and his actions bear the naivety of youth. He is sucked in by the money, power, and women and blinded to the truth of the situation he has found himself in.
The supporting cast, including Gillian Anderson and Kerry Washington, do nothing to diminish the realism of the film, but as so often in a film of this type with such a powerful performance, they are inevitably reduced to insubstantial roles.
Humorous in places, violent, bloody and tense in others, this is a hugely watchable film, directed and shot beautifully with authentic scenery. There is an interesting, well-constructed story at the heart of it which keeps the viewer involved and aware of what is going on without ever being patronising. The two main characters at the heart of the film play of each other beautifully, aided by a fast-flowing, witty dialogue and intricate story-line.
If there is a criticism to be made of the film, it is probably in the large liberties that are taken with the actual events that occurred. This is not one I share; although it is true that most of what you see is fictional, the film hints at an even darker truth behind the make-believe. To create an enjoyable, exciting story around this most evil of characters, and to bring him so convincingly to life, is a terrific achievement on the part of all concerned.
87% - Rotten Tomatoes
Not a film for kids - a couple of sex scenes, mass-murders, swearing, and a look-away-from-the-screen scene of violence
The usual commentarory track from the director. I'm not sure if anyone actually watches these things the whole way through. I couldn't bring myself to do it, not for the 10p I'll get for this review! I watched a bit and it all seems...fine, but what do you expect?!
Capturing Idi Amin - This is actually quite good, and gives quite a bit of background detail behind the real story.
There are two other featurettes on the casting of Forest Whittaker and the normal deleted scenes and trailers. Again, I can never really be bothered with deleted scenes. Normally, they weren't in the movie for a reason. When I've finished a book, I don't have a desperate urge to read all the chapters the author decided were too rubbish to put in the final product, and I'm not quite sure why they bother doing it in DVDs apart from as filler and to inflate the cost for minimal effort.
Currently about £3.99 on Amazon, though available pretty much anywhere you can get DVDs for not much more.
A film that will make you laugh, cry, and quite possibly hide behind the sofa. A film that holds the eternal dilemma "what would I do?". An intensely satisfying, action-packed, thought-provoking piece of work. And no Mel Gibson is sight. What more could you want?
I had great expectations for this film but despite some great performances, it didn't, for me, live up to its potential.
Mixing fiction and reality, this film follows Nicholas Garrigan, a young Scotsman who has just graduated from medical school. Rather than joining his father's local practice, he decides to leave, randomly choosing a country from the world globe in his country. He arrives in Uganda just as Idi Amin takes power from Milton Obote (around 1970) and joins a medical mission. Soon after, he comes into the orbit of Idi Amen when he gives him medical assistance at a roadside incident. Idi Amen takes a fancy to him and he becomes his personal doctor. Initially, Nicholas is very taken by Idi Amen but as the story progresses, he begins to see the brutality of his regime and slowly turns against the president.
Before I'd seen the film, I'd heard about Forest Whitaker's performance as Idi Amin and it really is amazing. In the DVD's extras, there are interviews with the actor and footage of the Idi Amin. Whitaker is a quiet spoken, reserved American but he absolutely captures the accent, demeanor and personality of the Ugandan dictator. You can really see the charisma and humour in the man, as well as his ego, childish quality and the violence for which he was well known.
All the casting is excellent, and James McAvoy is perfect as a naive young Scotsman out to see the world, meet some women and generally enjoy life.
The look of the film is gorgeous too. One thing that really struck me was the contrast between Scotland and Africa. The Africa Nicholas arrives in is bright, colourful with loads of character, a complete change from his dull, dour home and it really helps show why he wanted to get away to this exciting new continent. As Nicholas becomes more aware of the brutality of Amin's regime, the sets become much darker, adding to the atmosphere of the film.
So why didn't I like it? Well, the biggest problem for me was what the film makers do with the Nicholas character. Very early on in the film, there are clear indicators showing the true nature of Idi Amin's regime but we're supposed to believe that Nicholas somehow doesn't see them until its too late. Somehow Nicholas stays naive and good hearted (despite a penchant for other men's wives) right through. He is also supposed to have been Idi Amin's closest advisor. For me, none of these hold true.
A more honest approach (and I think a more interesting story) would have been to examine how someone like Nicholas can go from being naive to gradually becoming more corrupt through proximity with power. If they didn't want to do that with the character, the alternative would have been to make Nicholas aware of the true situation much earlier on. As it is, the film just doesn't quite work.
Another point for me was that I got frustrated by the mix of reality and fiction. After I watched the film, I became really interested in finding out what was true and what wasn't and I did a bit of reading. Most of the elements are true (Idi Amin's obsession with Scotland and his offer to help free the Scots from the Queen; the fact that his wife, Kay, had an affair and how he dealt with her; the hostage crisis at the end). The more I read, the more I thought that the film would have been better served by just depicting the true events in Uganda at that time.
On a side point, I thought that there were gratuitous sex scenes which just didn't add anything - I'm not normally fussed about that kind of thing, but I found it a bit tacky.
On balance, I'd say do watch the film, if only to see Forest Whitaker's performance and to get some idea of Uganda under his rule but be aware that its not the film it could have been.
After graduating as a doctor in 1970, Nicholas Garrigan decides to get away from his straight-laced life in Scotland and put his new skills to use in Uganda. Working in a small village hospital, Nicholas soon meets the new president, Id Amin, who immediately takes a liking to Nicholas after finding out he is Scottish. Amin appoints Nicholas as his personal physician and closest advisor and the pair try to right Uganda and make the country a better one.
But Nicholas soon realises that he has got himself caught up in a dangerous world that is way out of his control, as he realises that his new friend is not all he makes out to be. Disappearances, torture and murder are just some of the things that seem to happen around the very unpredictable Amin. Nicholas has to try to escape from Uganda and from his master's terrible reign, but that's only if Amin doesn't catch up with him first.
~ Cast ~
Idi Amin - Forest Whitaker
Nicholas Garrigan - James McAvoy
Kay Amin - Kerry Washington
Dr. Junju - David Oyelowo
Sarah Merrit - Gillian Anderson
Stone - Simon McBurney
As we're going to Uganda as part of our Africa trip in July, I've been doing a bit of research before we go just to find out a bit more about the places we're visiting. This is one of the more recent films about Africa and after reading up quite a bit about Idi Amin, I was quite interested in seeing this.
Forest Whitaker is the most perfect person to play the role of Idi Amin - he looks uncannily like him with his big round bulk that actually makes him look a bit like a giant teddy bear who you just want to hug - that is until you find out what he's really like! The resemblance really is so similar but it wasn't just his looks that made him the perfect part. His acting was brilliant and he seemed like a bit of a psychopath. One minute he would be laughing and joking around with his cronies and the next minute he would turn on one of them and become all serious, intimidating and angry. Then a couple of minutes later he'd be laughing and smiling again as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. His teddy bear looks made his character seem charming and friendly but in the blink of an eye his personality completely changes and he becomes someone to fear. I thought the film portrayed Amin's character very well and he was very much what I thought he would be like from other reading up I've done on him.
James McAvoy is great as Nicholas Garrigan, a friendly young man, but one who knows what he wants and what the distinction is between right and wrong. He does do some things that makes you question his sanity though, such as getting involved with one of Amin's wives, but despite his stupidity he is still just an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time and this makes him a very likeable character.
Through most of the film you don't really see what Idi Amin is getting up to but as it gets closer to the end, you begin to see some of the things he has done, people he has killed and tortured, and you realise how utterly evil he really is. Some of the scenes at the end really were disgusting but you have to see them otherwise you don't truly know what an awful man he is.
The film is set in the 1970s, so I understand that it is meant to look old-fashioned, but I thought that the actual picture quality of the film also looked quite old and not like it was only made a few years ago . Apart from that, the only other thing that I didn't particularly like was that we were left at the end of the film not knowing what happened to Nicholas and this was a little disappointing as he was the main good character.
Overall though, I really enjoyed this film and it was very interesting to find out a bit more about Uganda and Idi Amin. Admittedly, this isn't the sort of film that inspires you to travel to Uganda but there were certain parts, mainly with the children at the beginning, which did make me think that, despite the ruling of one horrid man, the country is actually a lovely place.
Certificate rating: 15
Running time: 121 minutes
Director: Kevin Macdonald
With this film you see a rare treat, a native Scot venturing into a region foreign to him and becoming a personal consult to a dictator by default. The film is rich in that it is challenging in its awkwardness. Firstly the opinion is requested of James Mcavoy who is in a difficult and awkward situation. Masterfully Whitaker manges to portray this dominant force who holds a sentimental glee in Scotland and all that it symbolises. This is perhaps in the heart of the Scottish and perceived power yet Mcavoy's character in reality is more liberal by nature and feels uneasy in the brutality of the scenes that he witnesses throughout.
Whitakers portayal and skill is such that he both manages to make you feel at home with his character in parts, but then you get blown away by the contrast because he is literally a monster and goes from being reasonable to barbaric very quickly. This comes to a head when Mcavoy tries to escape from his position and encounters difficulty, this is when you realise that the thin veneer of order between him and his boss has been impressed upon. Ultimately as a western audience we identify with Mcavoy because we feel trapped like his character.
Fundamentally this film is entrenched with political significance but for me what is more enjoyable is watching the relationship between the characters.
I watched this when it was on television recently, and was looking forward to watching it after hearing only good things about it. It wasn't pleasant to watch in terms of content because it's based on true atrocities, but it's an excellently made film
The Last King Of Scotland was a 2006 20th Century Fox production, rated certificate 15 for scenes of violence and some language. It's based on events in Uganda, told via the story of a young doctor who comes into close contact with its evil leader.
Dr Nicholas Garrigan, a newly appointed doctor, leaves his overbearing family in Scotland and lets the spin of a globe decide his fate. He's soon on a plane to Uganda, hoping to utilize his newly qualified medical skills. He appears to go there looking for fun and excitement, which is what he gets a first, but it's a culture shock for the naïve and fun-loving young man when he uncovers the real 1970s Uganda.
He first meets with Sarah Merrit, whose husband runs the rural clinic he will be working in. Witch doctors typically fill the streets, so his medical expertise is much needed to deal with the appalling conditions and rife with disease. The initial atmosphere, however, is one of joy as the people of Uganda watch their new leader, Amin, deliver a powerful and inspiring speech. This soon changes.
Through some strange circumstances, Garrigan meets Amin and although it looks as if the president is about to have him punished, he quickly changes his mind when he learns to young doctor is Scottish. Soon enough, the two men become close acquaintances, and Amin requests Garrigan first becomes his doctor and then his 'closest advisor'.
The personality changes of Amin are striking and very strange. One minute he's a best friend who's seemingly up for a laugh with his people, the next he's much darker, instilling fear in those around him.
The people of Uganda, and Garrigan, were all deceived into believing Amin was a good man, ready to do right by the people of Uganda by promoting a safe country, health, freedom...everything they wanted to hear. As blood is spilt, Garrigan becomes painfully aware of the truth and the much darker side to Ugandan politics and the true intent its leader.
Desperately wanting to leave and return home, Garrigan finds the Ugandan dictator has other ideas. From then on we see the struggles continue as he, who entered Uganda as a naïve young man wanting a good time away from his life in Scotland, take on the weight of the world. Amin appears even more unhinged as paranoia, death and revenge ensue.
I felt that at times this was hard to watch; the evil that was committed and Amin's bizarre personality made it edgy, dark and chilling. It's harrowing to think these events happened in the 1970s, but the film portrays them very well.
This is described as a 'heart-thumping thriller', which I would agree with. The atmosphere is built very well, and the scenes depict Uganda and it's people brilliantly. The direction and script of the film are very well done, which is then brilliantly portrayed through the superb acting. In the two leading roles are Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin and James McAvoy as Dr. Nicholas Garrigan. Amongst others are also Kerry Washington (Kay Amin) and Gillian Anderson (Sarah Merrit).
To support just how high quality the film is overall, it won an Oscar for best leading role performance (Whitaker) amongst 34 other wins and 21 nominations.
Definitely recommended - this film absorbs you into the life of the Ugandan people, gets you under the skin of Dr Garrigan, and up close with the evil dictator. It's content is dark, but it's eye-opening and insightful to watch.
DVD RRP £19.99, selling on Amazon for £4.98
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
The Last King of Scotland is a stellar drama that is baed on the Giles Foden's novel of the same name. It is one of the best film of 2006, benefitting hugely from Forest Whitaker's excellent Oscar-winning performance as Idi Amin, which famously edged out big hopeful Peter O' Toole (for the film Venus, who had been nominated 7 times previously and never won). This is a grim, thoroughly entertaining political thriller.
The film's protagonist (who actually wasn't in the real story) is Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), a medical graduate who wants to escape the expectations of his dull upper class family, and so becomes a Ugandan missionar for a clinic run by Dr. David Merrit (Adam Kotz) and his wife Sarah (Gillian Anderson). Just as he gets there, General Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) has finished his coup d'état to depose the then-President Milton Obote. After a minor car accident, Garrigan inspects Amin's injuries and Amin is impressed with him and so appoints him as his own personal medical aid.
The interesting moral element of the film is that Garrigan is aware acutely of Amin's torrent of murder and mayhem, but chooses to ignore it, perhaps through self-deception, by believing that Amin is going to bring about a more peaceful world. Garrigan, meanwhile, lives a luxurious life in Amin's pocket, until he gets full wind of the extent of Amin's reign of terror, and must attempt to escape this Hell.
This is without a doubt Whittaker's tour-de-force performance, and he steals the show in this gritty, brutal political thriller. The tone of the film changes in the final 10 minutes or so to something more resembling a typical action thriller, but I only found this to enhance the emotional resonance of the final moments. McAvoy's character was an unnecessary addition to the piece, but in order to grab mainstream audiences, he actually was necessary.
Released in 2006, The Last King of Scotland is a British film based upon the true story of Idi Amin's brutal rule of Uganda in the 1970s, starring James McAvoy as Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan (actually a conglomerate of several real-life individuals merged into one in the interests of poetic licence) who travels to Uganda and is befreinded by larger-than life dictator Amin who adopts the Scotsman as his chief doctor and key advisor.
Unfortunately Garrigan realises too late that Amin is in fact a completely deranged mass-murderer not above occult superstition and even cannibalism, and after becoming romantically involved with one of AMin's wives he becomes invovled in a desperate bid for survival as Amin increasingly starts to lose his grip on reality whilst his country cowers under his regime of terror.
The film is well-directed, shifting from early humour and lightheartedness
into increasingly dark territory as the film progresses, and whilstJames McAvoy is excellent as the adventurous Dr Garrigan, Forrest Whittaker really steals the show as Idi Amin putting in a great performance that is utterly compelling and convincing both physically and behaviourally, portraying the dictator as initially charming and lighthearted but increasingly revealing him as sadistic and deranged as the film progresses, his performance only topped by Bruno Ganz's superb comtemporary performance as Adolf Hitler in the 2004 film Downfall.
An engaging, entertaining and alternately light-hearted and deeply chilling film, The Last King of Scotland makes for thrilling viewing.
This film came highly recommended from a friend of mine who loves a good story. We can often differ on opinion though and I wasn't so sure about this one, personally I have very little knowledge of the politics of Africa and as such wasn't too interested. Anyway eventually watched it and boy was I surprised.
The film portrays the story of a young doctor desperate to not walk in his father's footsteps. Fresh from graduating he ups and leave to the first country he thinks of...Uganda! Whilst in Uganda Nicholas encounters the newly elected Amin who takes a liking for this Scottish cheeky chappy and a friendship strikes up. The story goes on to depict Amen's terrible rule of Uganda through the biased eyes of his newly acquired Scotsman. Nicholas is blind to (or chooses not to see) Amin's power crazed blood-lust and enjoys the benefits of being the president's closest friend. Needless to say it all turns sour predominantly due to Nicholas' lust for pretty married women...even Amin's wife!
So what did I think? Superb! I was gripped from the word go. As afore mentioned I have little knowledge of African politics and of Amin. Watching the story from the eyes of Nicholas I enjoyed the friendship that evolved but there was always a threatening undercurrent and it s obvious to the viewer that Amin possesses a volatile danger.
The acting from both McAvoy and Whitaker is simply fantastic and both men deserve the praise they have received. McAvoy's depiction of a somewhat naive but self pleasuring young man is wonderful and we see the changes in the character as he realised just what he's getting involved in. Whitaker portrays a sometimes warm Amin but an often frightening one!
Overall I loved this film and it certainly taught me a thing or two about history...Straight to google following the film!!
2006 saw the release of a seriously impacting and topical film that not only centered around true events but was adapted by screenwriters Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock and directed by Kevin Macdonald, from the novel of the same name by Giles Foden.
The Last King of Scotland is co-produced film between the UK and US and Fox and Film4, with this in mind the film could only ever be a success commercially. However what does it say about the director and the strength of the film itself?.. Well actually it says nothing, I say that because even without all of the special corporate attention this film got I think if you take it as a stand alone piece of cinema in its bare bones, it is a master piece. Not only is the script intensely engaging but the cast were born to play the roles they have in this movie, I am pretty sure if none of the actors ever played in anything else before or after, they could be hugely proud of the achievements made here.
The film tells the fictional story of a young Scottish doctor (James Mcavoy) who travels to Uganda to work and have a different experience to that of his home life. Quite by chance he finds himself succuming to the intimidating charms of dictator, Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker). Agreeing to be the leaders personal physician, the young Doctor finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into the corrupt and violent world that Idi Amin created. Although this movie is a fictional account where the doctor is concerned it is based on the true and accurate events of Amin's reign. Make no mistake under the glossy veneer of a brilliant cinematic experience this film packs a hard line punch and some informative depictions of a morality and primal politic that is becoming ever present in films of the "Dark continent".
The entire cast are brilliant and a surprising appearance from the beautifully sun blushed Gillian Anderson, who is looking almost angelic, as she ages as a fine wine of the highest calibre would. She literally makes me weep with the sorrow of knowing I might never be able to marry her.
With a long list of awards including; BAFTA's, Academy Awards and Golden Globes this is a serious movie that you simply must see, Whitaker's portrayal of Idi Amin is terrifyingly good. Please please watch this film.
This film was on TV the other night so I took advantage of the chance to watch it as I missed it when it came out at the cinema and it was a film that I wanted to see.
The action takes place in Uganda and tells the story of a Scottish man Nicholas Garrigan, played by James McAvoy and his relationship with the notorious dictator Idi Amin who is portrayed by Forest Whittaker. Garrigan finds himself disillusioned with life as a doctor in the UK and decides to go to Africa to make a difference to peoples lives, while there he meets Amin and is offerred the job of being the tyrants personal doctor and Garrigan begins to enjoy a life of luxury.
Needless to say you would have to bury your head pretty deep in the sand not to realise that Amin is a dictator and so the story unfolds as Garrigan comes to terms with the darker side of the regime of which he is effectively a part of.
Both lead actors are superb in their roles, McAvoy is excellent as the somewhat naive doctor while Whittaker delivers a powerful performance as Idi Amin, the range of emotions he portrays is very convincing and impressive and turned into an oscar winnin performance for him.
I loved the fast pace of the movie and the fact that as a member of the audience you clearly knew more about the regime than the naive doctor. There are some nice lighter moments to break up the drama but these do not detract from the powerfulness of the storyline. Visually it is an impressive piece of work also and is well directed.
Definately a film I would recommend seeing as it was an enoyable experience and tells an interesting story. Worth five stars from me.
The Last King Of Scotland came out back in 2006. The film won an Oscar and was instantly loved by many film critics. I heard about all this success and thought it must be worth a watch. Staring the bright up and coming actor James McAvoy and the brilliant Forest Whitaker I thought this really did sound like it had the potential to be a good film.
The film starts with a young man named Nicholas. He is a young doctor who is looking to broaden his horizons. So to do this he travels to Uganda. The film is set in the 70's when the brutal dictatorship of Idi Amin is in power. Upon reaching Uganda the doctor soon finds himself involved with the powerful leader. A few a series of events he becomes the leaders personal physician. Then the story follows how the young doctor copes with the pressures of the job and the responsibility of witnessing such brutality to the people.
I really like this film. It is very well filmed with some great scenery. The story moves at a great pace and always keeps you guessing. The story is very powerful and quite controversial and it really opens your eyes to what went on in Uganda back in the 70's. The performance by Forest Whitaker is brilliant. He really has you believing his is Idi Amin! Backed up by McAvoy this is a very powerful film full of raw emotion.
I found some of the scenes quite disturbing. Near the end the bit with the meat hooks is probably the worst, and it really makes you think about what some people went through. This is not an easy film to watch in this sense, so be warned.
The film runs for 121 minutes which is quite a long time. But there is so much going on that you don't really notice you have been sat there for two hours. At no point was I bored in this film.
The film is rated as 15. There is some strong language, sexual scenes and also some very graphic violence. This film is certainly not for children and I think even some adults would find this difficult to watch!
The DVD has all the normal things you would expect. Things like trailers and what not. But really you should buy this for the film itself and not any of the extras.
So overall would say this is an excellent film. Not for everyone because of the subject matter, but if your comfortable watching this sort of film I'm sure you will really enjoy this! Go and get a copy as soon as you can!
The Last King of Scotland was released in 2007 as a film of the novel by Giles Foden of the same title. It is a story about Idi Amin, the president of Uganda in the 1970s, and mixes fact and fiction. Forrest Whitaker stars as Amin, in an Oscar winning turn, with James McAvoy as his personal physician, Nicholas Garrigan.
The story follows Nicholas (a fictional character) as he becomes a qualified doctor, then heads off to Uganda rather than stay in Scotland to work with his father. Once in Uganda, he crosses paths with Amin, who loves the Scots and all things Scottish. He employs Nicholas as his personal doctor, and Nicholas is suddenly living the high life in Kampala. Amin trusts him completely and counts him as a close advisor. However we soon see that Amin is not stable, and Nicholas becomes worried about his own safety and that of Kay, one of Amin's wives who he has befriended.
The film is an intriguing mix of fact and fiction. While Amin did have some British doctors, Nicholas is a fictional character created by Giles Foden, who has been inserted into this representation of Amin's life. However, a lot of the events that we see are factual - the Scottish concerts, the expulsion of Asians from the country, Kay's fate. Kay's story is almost entirely true to what is shown in the film, except for Nicholas - but what she did and what happened to her in the film are true. Remember that if you watch this - I don't want to give too much away for those who don't know the story.
Forrest Whitaker deservedly won an Oscar and a BAFTA for his turn as Idi Amin. He was a larger than life character, exactly what the British press expected an African dictator to be like, and Whitaker portrays him wonderfully. He gives the character the perfect mix of fun and menace, with Amin having a joyful party in one scene and in a murderous rage in the next.
James McAvoy as Nicholas Garrigan is also very good. The character is an interesting blend of naivety and knowledge - as first he sees only the good side of Amin, before he comes to realise what is actually going on in Uganda. However, in his dealings with the slimy Englishman Nigel Stone (Simon McBurney) from the British Consulate, he displays no such naivety - he knows exactly how these "good old boy" Englishmen view the Africans, and he swiftly tells Stone where to go.
The film was shot predominantly on location in Uganda, in the countryside and in Kampala itself. The opening shots of the country are beautiful, vibrant colours and smiling children showing Nicholas what an apparently wonderful country he has come to. Early on he is caught up in the excitement of Amin's coup, as a woman on the bus tells him how wonderful it is for Uganda.
It is widely known that Amin loved Scotland, and as he tells Nicholas, if he were to be any nationality other than Ugandan, it would be Scottish. We learn that he has sons with Scottish names, we see him in a kilt listening to a strange African rendition of Loch Lomond (no Runrig guitars and drums in this version), but the film doesn't feature his big declarations of being the King of Scotland, or his offers to spearhead the movement for Scottish independence, which by the 1970s was gaining pace (thanks but no thanks Mr Amin). For a film titled The Last King of Scotland, you would expect these events to be featured.
This film is a mixture of different things. It is funny, emotional, educational, thrilling and shocking. In the early scenes with Nicholas and Amin, where life is good, I felt joyful too - Nicholas truly believed that Amin was good for Uganda, and although I sat down to watch this knowing the full story, I couldn't help but think that too. To me that's the mark of a good historical film - you know the outcome, but it's so well played that you can't help but hope for something else.
As for shocking, for much of the film Nicholas (and therefore the viewers) is slightly sheltered from the reality of what is going on in Uganda. There are some instances where he sees Amin's vengeance, but not many. So when the first shocking scene comes, it really hits hard - although given the nature of it, it would be shocking no matter what had gone before. It hits Nicholas so hard, and McAvoy is wonderful in this scene, he shows real pain. I was almost in tears at this point, it was very upsetting, and not for the faint hearted. I won't tell you what this is, but if you watch the film you will be able to realise when it is approaching, so brace yourself. The second notable shocking scene is near the end, and it really made me squirm. While some morbid curiosity couldn't stop me watching the first one, I had to turn away from this, it was too difficult to watch.
Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and thought it was very well made. It was upsetting, but it was also very interesting and gave an excellent insight into one of Africa's most brutal dictators. I would strongly recommend it to all.
The DVD features a few extras, some of which I have watched. There is the usual commentary, some deleted scenes, a documentary - Capturing Idi Amin, a feature on Forrest Whitaker playing Idi Amin, and the casting sessions for the film. I watched the deleted scenes and the documentary.
The deleted scenes were a bit of a let down. The content wasn't bad, but they were rather dull and you could see why they were deleted. The problem for me was the sound quality - clearly these has not been edited/mastered before inclusion on the DVD. Some were better than others, but most were very difficult to make out what was being said. I wouldn't bother with them if I were you.
The documentary, however, was very interesting. It featured the cast and crew talking about the making of the film, Ugandans (including some of Amin's ministers) talking about the man himself, and there was also a lot of archive footage showing Amin. Watching this footage, you can see that a lot of the events in the film, even inconsequential ones, were inspired by real events. There are a lot of very interesting facts about Amin in this documentary - the deputy PM tells us that Ugandans rate Amin much higher than outsiders do, and another Ugandan refers to him as a hero. However, we then hear from many others who are pleased about the film because it will remind the younger generation, who do not remember Amin, what happened and it will show them how to avoid it again. The documentary really is well worth a watch, I think it lasted around 30 minutes, so it doesn't last too long.
I bought my DVD from HMV early this year for £3, and I've seen it at that price since. For that price, this is great value and well worth purchasing.
The Last King of Scotland is a story, inspired by real people and events about the life of the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. The film came out in 2006 and was one that I really enjoyed. In my opinion it's well portrayed, beautifully acted, tense and gripping and one you really have to watch.
Idi Amin is played by Forest Whitaker and he gives a truly haunting portrail. He's really quite scary in this film at the same time as being really captivating and interesting and it's no coincidence that people fall for his charms. I think he actually bears a little resembalance to the dictator himself and so this definitely made the look and character more believeable. In fact, it's not jsut me who thinks Forest did a great job. He won the Best Actor award at the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild and the BAFTAs for his role as Amin, not bad huh!
The story itself is told from the viewpoint of Nicholas Garrigan a young Scotsman who becomes the volatile leader's personal physician. Micholas is played by James McAvoy. He has come a long way in recent years to become a really great British actor. He's not the cutest actor in my opinion but I think this allows him to play roles where he can be taken seriously and put in a great performance. He has something about him though that really keeps you watching and wanting more from his character.
At first Garrigan loves his new life in Uganda and his position as most trusted friend of Amin but things slowly turn out for the worse and Garrigan finds himself living a disaster. It's really quite scary how things turn for him and you can really imagine it being your worst nightmare with what looks like no way to get out.
The film was actually adapted from a book by Giles Foden of the same name. The title comes from the fact that Amin has a great love for all things Scottish and actually proclaims himself, "The Last King of Scotland."
I think the scenery and countryside contributed to this story as well. It was great to see a different culture and country in view and all the things that took palce there. I think it also help the reader to better understand just what the population of Uganda went through during these terrible times.
The DVD is rated 15 as it contains strong violence, gruesome images, sex and language. I did find this film quite gruesome but I think it needed to be to tell the story properly but definitely not one I recommend for kids. The film runs for approximately 117 minutes and special features include 7 deleted scenes, exclusive documentary and a Forest Whitaker Idi Amin featurette.
FILM REVIEW ONLY
It's strange to think that Idi Amin, the ex-dictator of Uganda, should have such an affinity with Scotland, but it was unquestionably the case. It would appear that he developed a lifelong affection for the country while serving in the King's African Rifles, where his commanding officers were all Scottish. Indeed, he even went so far as to publicly offer to become the "King of Scotland" in 1974, in order to save Scotland from the yoke of English rule. (Heh, heh)
Hence the title of this 2007 Oscar winning movie about the life and times of Amin starring Scots actor James McAvoy and black American actor Forest Whitaker in the main role.
The movie is based on a novel by Giles Foden which tells the story of how a young, disillusioned Scots doctor called Nicholas Garrigan (McAvoy) visits Uganda, ostensibly to help the poor but in reality more to escape the humdrum existence he sees stretching before him in his native Scotland and the presence of an overbearing G.P.father.
A chance meeting with Idi Amin leads to the dictator taking a liking to the young Scotsman and offering him the position of his personal physician. The doctor doesn't take too much persuading, and it's not long before he is enjoying a lavish lifestyle and all the trappings of power that the position brings. But all too soon he becomes aware that all is not as it seems with the Uganda regime, and that Amin himself is not quite the full shilling. But by now he is so embroiled that it is almost impossible for him to escape the clutches of the mad dictator.
James McAvoy is excellent as the young Scots doctor, but his performance is overshadowed by the tour de force performance of Whitaker in the role of Amin. Whitaker even has the same physical presence as Amin, and he portrays him to perfection, beautifully capturing his mercurial mood swings from a likeable buffoon to a dangerous psychopath. In my opinion this is the finest performance (so far) of Whitaker's acting career and he undoubtedly deserved the "Best Actor" Oscar that he won for the part.
The movie literally has you on the edge of your seat the whole way through, and you never know what crazy twist or turn is going to happen next. The movie treads a fine line between hilarious comedy and high drama and provides a fascinating insight into how an all-powerful dictator subjugates his people.
The movie was shot entirely on location in Uganda, and the backdrops of its people, scenery and music lend even more authenticity to the film.
One not to be missed.
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Starring: James McAvoy, Forest Whitaker, Gillian Anderson, David Oyelowo, Kerry Washington and Simon McBurney.
Duration: 121 minutes
© KenJ July 2009
This film tackles some of the years of Idi Amin's disastrous rule in Uganda. There is no doubt that it is film of some integrity. It is also very watchable and involving, excellent cinema. It centres on a young(fictional) Scottish doctor, well played by James McEvoy, who gets caught up in affairs at the highest level when, on a whim, Amin chooses him as his 'personal physician' after a completely accidental encounter on a Ugandan road. While this places McEvoy in a position of great power and privilege, it is also terrifyingly dangerous, as events dictate in time. He foolishly, and I think a little unconvincingly, becomes involved with one of Amin's wives, and that causes, eventually, great terror and pain for him, even more for her. There are many excellent things about the film, but it has to be said that its crowning glory (no pun intended!) is the astonishing performance by Forrest Whitaker as Amin. He is odds-on favourite for best actor Oscar ; if he doesn't get it there is no justice. You have to see him to see how good he is, and it is a subtle performance, not just a ranting and roaring one, presenting Amin as a complex man of apparent good nature, charm and humour, a man of the people - very charismatic - as well as the capacity for insane rage, pathological fear and great cruelty. So it's quite a film. Not five stars, because there are some things that don't ring quite true, mostly in the plot line, but compelling and involving, and with one truly great cinema performance.
As the evil Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, Forest Whitaker gives an unforgettable performance in The Last King of Scotland. Powerfully illustrating the terrible truth that absolute power corrupts absolutely, this fictionalised chronicle of Amin's rise and fall is based on the acclaimed novel by Giles Foden, in which Amin's despotic reign of terror is viewed through the eyes of Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), a Scottish doctor who arrives in Uganda in the early 1970s to serve as Amin's personal physician. His outsider's perspective causes him to be initially impressed by Amin's calculated rise to power, but as the story progresses--and as Whitaker's award-worthy performance grows increasingly monstrous--The Last King of Scotland turns into a pointed examination of how independent Uganda (a British colony until 1962) became a breeding ground for Amin's genocidal tyranny. As Whitaker plays him, Amin is both seductive and horribly destructive--sometimes in the same breath--and McAvoy effectively conveys the tragic cost of his character's naiveté, which grows increasingly prone to exploitation. As directed by Kevin Macdonald (who made the riveting semi-documentary Touching the Void), this potent cautionary tale my prompt some viewers to check out Barbet Schroeder's equally revealing documentary General Idi Amin Dada, an essential source for much of this film's authentic detail. --Jeff Shannon