Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Last King of Scotland

I know I am on a rant about James McAvoy, but I have found it is with reason.  On my flight home, even Delta's magazine featured him as the most talented rising actor.  I have talked a lot about his latest movies, which are all of the romance genre.  However, I am recently reminded of his earlier work of a different genre.  Over Spring Break, I watched The Last King of Scotland for a second time.  It had been a long time since I viewed the film, and I was amazed at my intrigue in the film the second time I watched it.

The film covers the dictatorship of the Ugandan president Idi Amin in the 1970s.  The film approaches the difficult subject from the perspective of his personal doctor, based on the fictional book by Giles Foden.  McAvoy plays Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, a young Scottish doctor pulled into the web of Amin's political action as his doctor.  McAvoy was lucky to not have to work on an accent, as a Scot himself he was simply able to fall right into the role.  

McAvoy did amaze me at his level of talent so early in his career.  His emotional range and character meshing was unbelievable.  I am a fan of all his films, but he is most convincing in his most challenging role.  That proves to me his worth in the acting field.  To play such a monumental role in such a controversial film is truly an accomplishment.

The real talent in the film, however, is Forest Whitaker.  The man has been in many films of every genre and even graced television in several successful shows.  He is a very talented actor and blends into any role presented to him.  In this film, he couragously approached the role of Ugandan president Idi Amin, considered one of the most brutal rulers in history.  Whitaker makes this horrible man come across as a humorous, concerned ruler of his people.  He plays him exactly as the Ugandans and others viewed Amin in his time of power.  They were blind to his horrible ways as is the audience.  His excellent portrayal earned Whitaker his first Oscar.

The only way the audience can see this man's true character is through the perspective of the physician.  He is a fictional character but his position poses an interesting aspect on Amin's rule.  Initially, it is obvious that Garrigan is mesmerized by the president's extravagance and power.  Although Garrigan starts out his work in Uganda in a village clinic, he has no problem adjusting to the private house and convertible given to him by Amin.  Amin has a love for Scottish culture and military history, so grows very attached to him.  Garrigan is one of the only people to see almost every aspect of Amin's life.  For the purpose of exposing this dictator to the world, Garrigan works well as fictional eyes and ears in Amin's life.

The story of Idi Amin, however is very true. There is no doubt that he is one of the most horrible dictators.  In 1971, this man took power as a man of the people after a military coup against President Obote.  The Ugandan people loved Amin, but by the end of his rule in 1979 he was responsible for around 500,000 Ugandan's deaths.  After being kicked out of Uganda, Amin settled in Saudi Arabia until his death on August 16, 2003.  This movie was released only three years after his death.

No comments: