- The Last King of Scotland (film)
name =The Last King of Scotland
caption =Teaser poster for "The Last King of Scotland"
Forest Whitaker James McAvoy Kerry Washington Simon McBurney
director =Kevin Macdonald
music =Alex Heffes
Anthony Dod Mantle
editing = Justine Wright
Fox Searchlight Pictures
January 12, 2007(UK) September 27, 2006 USA
runtime = 123 minutes [DVD, 2006]
budget = US$6 million
"The Last King of Scotland" is a British 2006 film based on
Giles Foden's novel of the same name. It was adapted by screenwriters Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brockand directed by Kevin Macdonald. The film was a co-productionbetween companies from the United Kingdomand the United States, including Fox Searchlight Picturesand Film4.
"The Last King of Scotland" tells the
fictionalstory of Dr. Nicholas Garrigan ( James McAvoy), a young Scottish doctor who travels to Ugandaand becomes the personal physician to the dictator Idi Amin( Forest Whitaker). The movie is based on factual events of Amin's rule.
Young newly-qualified Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan (
James McAvoy) heads to Ugandaseeking adventure and escape from the bourgeois life of his father. He works in a small clinic on the countryside with Dr. Merrit ( Adam Kotz) and his wife, Sarah ( Gillian Anderson). At the time of Garrigan's arrival, General Idi Amin ( Forest Whitaker) leads a coup against current president Milton Obote. He is enamored of Amin's rhetoric when Amin comes to the village where they are working, which held a rally for him. Garrigan and Amin meet on a chance encounter on a country road, where he treats Amin's hand. Amin is impressed when Garrigan takes his gun (without asking) and shoots a wounded cow. He likes Garrigan because he is Scottish, and offers Garrigan the job of becoming his personal physician, and, after some hesitation, Garrigan accepts.
Amin welcomes Garrigan into his personal confidences quickly, asking for advice on state matters and presenting Garrigan with a comfortable living and a new Mercedes. Now entrenched in a lifestyle far removed from the impoverished countryside he first came to Uganda to serve, Garrigan's image of Amin turns to
idolization. He detests the local British officials for their imperialistic attitude and continues to help Amin on state projects and family matters while working in the main Kampala state funded hospital.
Slowly, however, Garrigan cannot reconcile this positivity with the increasingly brutal and repressive images of violence and oppression enveloping the country around him; at the same time, the audience comes to realize that he is no longer an innocent bystander, since his participation in Amin's household is itself support of Amin's repressive policies. At one crucial moment in the film, Garrigan goes to Amin to ask him to talk to his other closest Ugandan advisor because he suspects him of treason; Amin immediately has the advisor killed. When this is revealed to Garrigan by a British official, Garrigan first makes excuses for Amin's government, but, unable to sustain his self-delusion, then confronts Amin. The scene is revealing: Amin says to him, essentially, "You knew exactly what was going to happen when you asked me to 'talk' to the minister—Don't act as if you are completely innocent of this."
As a result of this confrontation and this moment of self-awareness, Garrigan decides he must leave Uganda. At first, he asks Amin to let him leave, but when he returns home one day to find his house ransacked, his passport gone, and a new Ugandan passport in an envelope addressed to him, he realizes the dictator will not let him go willingly. He turns for help to the British officials that he has been contemptuous of, and they return the favour: Why would they help a man who has allowed Idi Amin to wreak such havoc on Uganda and the world? However, they will allow him to leave on one condition: he must assassinate Idi Amin.
Garrigan, meanwhile, has an affair with one of Amin's wives, Kay (
Kerry Washington), and gets her pregnant. While seeking an abortionin a nearby village, Kay is caught, executed, and mutilated by Amin's forces. Garrigan sees her mutilated cadaver knowing that he has caused her death: his actions (and his initial refusal to provide the abortion himself) left her no choice in her course of action. As a result of this trauma, Garrigan decides to assassinate Amin by poisoning him, under the ruse of giving him pills for a headache.
Soon after, a hijacked Air France aircraft lands at
Entebbe International Airportseeking asylum for the Palestinianhijackers on board. Amin, Garrigan, and other state officials rush to the airport to deal with the situation. Here, Garrigan's plot to kill Amin is discovered and Amin reveals he is aware of the affair between Kay and Garrigan. While Amin leans close to Garrigan to tell him how he will die, Garrigan, with uncharacteristic boldness, says to Amin: "You're a child, that's what makes you so fucking scary."
Amin orders Garrigan beaten and tortured, and he is strung up by meat hooks, while Amin looks on. After Amin and his officials leave, Garrigan is rescued by a Ugandan colleague, Dr. Junju (
David Oyelowo), who offers his help in exchange for Garrigan's promise to return to Europeand tell the world the truth about Idi Amin. Again, the ambivalence of Garrigan's moral position is invoked: Garrigan asks Junju, "Why are you doing this [for me] ?" and Junju replies, "Frankly, I don't know—You deserve to die, But dead you can do nothing, Alive you can redeem yourself." Junju goes on to explain that Garrigan is in a position to go back home and tell the rest of the world what Amin is really like, and what he has done. "They will believe you," he says. "You are a white man."
Garrigan sneaks aboard a plane with a group of released hostages, leaving behind a furious Amin. After his last act of compassion and bravery, Dr. Junju is discovered to have helped Garrigan to escape and is shot dead. Junju's last words are, "My wife," before being shot in the head.
The last scene is of Garrigan in the airplane. With archival footage, the closing coda notes the aftermath:
48 hours later, Israeli forces stormed Entebbe and liberated all but one of the hostages. International public opinion turned against Amin for good. When he was finally overthrown in 1979 jubilant crowds poured onto the streets. His regime had killed more than 300,000 Ugandans. Amin died in exile in Saudi Arabia on the 16th of August 2003. Nobody knows if that was the date he had dreamed about.
"The Last King of Scotland" received a limited release in the
United Stateson September 27, 2006, with a UK release on January 12, 2007, a French release on February 14, 2007, and a German release on March 15, 2007.
The film was released on DVD in
North Americaon April 17, 2007.
Whitaker received considerable critical acclaim for his performance as dictator Idi Amin in the film, winning the Best Actor award at the
Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guildand the BAFTAs, in addition to awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Reviewand many other critics awards, for a total of at least 23 major awards, with at least one more nomination.
The film was received well in Uganda, where it premiered two days before Whitaker won the Best Actor award. [ Sarah Grainger (18 February 2007). [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6373113.stm Ugandan premiere for Last King] . "BBC". Accessed 2008-05-23.]
The film received a 2007
BAFTA Award for Best British Filmand the BAFTA award for Best Adapted Screenplay, in addition to receiving nominations for Best Supporting Actor James McAvoyand Best Film.
While Idi Amin and the events surrounding him in the movie are mostly factual, Garrigan is a fictional character; but his story is very loosely based on events in the life of English-born
Bob Astles. Like the novel on which it is based, the film mixes fiction with real events in Ugandan history to give an impression of Amin and Uganda under his authoritarian rule. While the basic events of Amin's life are followed, the film often departs from actual history in the details of particular events.
In real life and in the book, Kay Amin was not made pregnant by Astles (or Garrigan in this case) but by her lover, Dr. Mbalu Mukasa. In real life Kay died during a botched abortion operation by Mukasa, who subsequently committed suicide. Kay's body was then mutilated in the manner shown in the film on Amin's orders.
In real life, Amin never had a son named Campbell.
The film condenses the time frame of real events. For example, Amin expelled the Indians and South Asians in 1972, and the airplane hijacking took place in 1976, but in the film they appear to take place closer in time.
Many of the Ugandan landmarks seen in the movie did not exist in the 1970s.
Operation Entebbe- The Israeli rescue operation of the hostages at the Entebbe Airport
* [http://www2.foxsearchlight.com/thelastkingofscotland/ Official website]
*imdb title | id=0455590 | title=The Last King of Scotland
* [http://www.timeout.com/film/news/1457.html Time Out Set Visit]
* [http://www.crowdedserpents.com/2007/07/last-king-of-scotland-music-remix.html Trailer and Music Remix]
* [http://www.moviehole.net/interviews/20060927_exclusive_interview_forest_whi.html Forest Whitaker interview for "The Last King of Scotland"] at Press Archive
* [http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/lastkingofscotland "Last King of Scotland" Reviews] at Metacritic.com
*rotten-tomatoes|id=last_king_of_scotland|title=The Last King of Scotland
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