Posts Tagged ‘History in Films’

The message: films about Africa

22 October 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Idi AminI watched The Last King of Scotland again on Channel 4 on Sunday night. When I say I watched it again I mean I persevered until not even Forest Whitaker’s fantastic performance as Idi Amin could overpower the irritating plot. (For those of you not in the know: errant young Scotsman becomes doctor, runs as far away from his family as possible and, quelle Hollywood surprise, becomes chief advisor to the dictator of an East African state.) Stuck with it until I felt I had to do what all errant youths (or not-so-youths) of today do: sit, type, and add another drop to the internet ocean.

I thought first of writing a piece on the ‘real’ Idi Amin, who died in Saudi Arabia in 2003, but two things stopped me. First, Last King of Scotland actually did quite a good job (Scottish doctor/chief advisor apart) of portraying life in Amin’s Uganda. It’s pretty much all there: human flesh eating; body of dismembered wife sewn back together; utter lunacy combined with almost hilarious displays of grandeur; the unbridled corruption and paralysing fear of Amin among the Ugandan political elite; hope lost and promises broken; and the outside (British, Israeli, Libyan) interference and alliances that propped up Amin’s rule, if all painted in the broadest of brushstrokes.

And second, I didn’t want to write just another ‘horror in Africa’ story, one that ended almost thirty years ago when an increasingly disliked Amin was overthrown. Read More