Last King Of Scotland

There is a scene at the end of the film where Idi Amin Dada, the feral dictator of Uganda, tells the fancy white boy Nicholas that "we (Africa) are not a game. We are real. Your death is the first real thing that is going to happen to you."

These are powerful words that sort of self-mock this new "white-man's burden" that has lately gnawed at a good bit of Hollywood directors. 'Last King Of Scotland' is a better offering from the barrage of 'Africa Awareness' movies (Interpreter, Hotel Rwanda, Constant Gardener, etc) that have been doing the rounds of the award ceremonies.

Based on a novel by Giles Foden, the motive of "The Last King of Scotland" isn't quite clear. This is more a plot that works in a novel than in a movie. The novel and the film focus tightly on a young Scottish doctor who befriends Amin and becomes an unwitting adviser and an admirer. Eventually he sees the truth but by then he finds himself submerged in quite a lot of problems -- mostly of his own making.

This is also one of those correctionist stories that tries to interweave fiction to make history more palatable to the general populace. The problem with this approach is of course the smudging of the line that needs to exist to keep the two worlds apart. This story basically gets rid of that line and expects the viewer to use their judgment in scouring fiction from fact.

Forest Whitaker plays Idi Amin and does a pretty good job of building the kind of emotional tension that surrounds these type of wild, deranged psychopaths. He is scary and generally quite real. The rest of the cast is quite the usual fare of white folks trying to play fairly well scripted roles in an African country. Can someone tell me what Gillian Anderson is doing for ten minutes in this film?