The Last King of Scotland
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A Scottish doctor on a Ugandan medical mission becomes irreversibly entangled with one of the world
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 fictionalized 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 Into 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
Beyond The Last King of Scotland
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General Idi Amin Dada
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Stills from The Last King of Scotland
- Commentary by director Kevin Macdonald
- Deleted scenes with optional commentary by Kevin Macdonald
- Documentary: Capturing Idi Amin
- Forest Whitaker Featurette
- Fox Movie Channel Presents: Casting Session- The Last King of Scotland
- Theatrical Trailer
- International Trailer
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Top customer reviews
The film and the main character, Dr. Garrigan, are fictional; however they are based on the actual history of Idi Amin Dada's genocidal tyranny and the PLO high jacking in Entebbe. Nicholas comes to Uganda on a lark and works in a mission clinic where he tries to seduce the physician's vulnerable wife with little regard for those around him. He meets the General by accident and impresses Amin. Nicholas Garrigan is at first entranced and entertained by Amin Dada's commanding personality, sarcastic wit, and unique views. However the longer Nicholas remains in the court of Amin Dada, the more complicit he becomes to the evil that is generated and the more mistakes and false steps he takes that begin to distance him from Amin Dada.
In some ways the film is about maturity. Clever, witty, intelligent folks from privileged Western backgrounds will sometimes underestimate the level of threat and danger present in situations outside of North American culture. Dr. Nicholas Garrigan is one of those folks and his underestimation of the forces of evil bring great harm to those around him and to himself. Amin confronts him at the end of the film for being an egotistical Westerner who had decided to play with the natives for a lark. Amin shows him that the natives don't play.
The Entebbe Airport high jacking by the PLO is relevant to the story and young Nicholas comes very close to losing his life. Will he be a wiser man due to his painful experiences? McAvoy does such a great job of portraying this flippant egotist that even after much pain and death, I doubted that he had changed his ways. This is not a very optimistic vision of human character. In fact it is darkly pessimistic. Idi Amin Dada is a rare occurrence, a homicidal tyrant who thinks nothing of genocide. But Dr. Nicholas Garrigan is not such a rare specimen, for he represents the smart young brass egotist who can do great harm because he lacks the experience and especially the wisdom to avoid danger. When his egotism involves others in exposure to danger he certainly becomes less charming and sympathetic a character.
The film is great entertainment, great suspense, and great acting.
One, I enjoyed quite a bit about it. I found myself interested nearly the entire movie through and never was I disinterested with any of the characters.
Two, at a certain point the movie becomes disjointed and difficult to understand. That's when I started to dislike the movie - because I couldn't understand what had just happened. One moment Amin was a beloved leader, revered by the people, looked up to and hearalded, the next he's off killing people as traitors. There is no real transition to this event; it's never 100% clear exactly what his motives are. It's like he just snapped one day and became paranoid after something happens (can't say exactly...would spoil it), but that's not realistic at all. I know from what I've read that people regarded Amin as constantly thinking everyone was out to get him, and maybe that was true...maybe it wasn't. But at least portray a possible motive in the movie, and let the people watching decide for themselves.