Monday, April 30, 2007

The Last King of Scotland

I finally had a chance to the see The Last King of Scotland last night. This movie was released last year. It won Forest Whitaker an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

The movie follows the adventures of Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan who through a series of adventures winds up on the staff of Idi Amin as his personal physician. He becomes more and more influential and is referred to by Amin's enemies as the White Rat. Garrigan slowly becomes aware of the evil he has become a part of and eventually with help manages to get out of Uganda.

The movie is "loose" history. Obviously, Idi Amin existed, he brutalized Uganda, and much of what is shown happened. However, the Scottish doctor never existed. Garrigan is loosely based on the real "White Rat" who was Englishman Bob Astles. You can read about him in this article titled Uganda's white Rat.

The parts about Amin's love of Scotland are true. He really was fascinated by Scottish history. It was rather disconcerting to see African "highlanders" marching in kilts with bagpipes but that was Uganda in the 70s.

Overall, I really liked this movie. It starts as a fun story with a naive Scottish doctor enjoying power by accident. But it quickly turns dark and it is easy to see how good people can become a part of horrible history. It is clear that the Garrigan character had blood on his hands. He did not mean for it to happen but it happened nonetheless. I think this is a recurring theme of history unfortunately. It is very easy for good people to get caught up in evil without ever meaning to and and most are never given the chance to atone for their actions. If you have not seen this film, I encourage you to watch it. It is worth the effort.

No comments: