The Last King of Scotland is a 2006 British drama film based on Giles Foden's novel of the same name. It was adapted by screenwriters Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock and directed by Kevin Macdonald. The film was a co-production between companies from the United Kingdom and the United States, including Fox Searchlight Pictures and Film4.
The Last King of Scotland tells the fictional story of Dr. Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), a young Scottish doctor who travels to Uganda and becomes the personal physician to the dictator Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker). The film is based on factual events of Amin's rule.
The title comes from a reporter in a press conference who wishes to verify whether Amin declared himself the King of Scotland.
The film opens in Scotland in 1970 as Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) graduates from medical school. Faced with the dull prospect of joining his father in the family's village practice, he decides instead to seek adventure abroad by taking up a position in a Ugandan missionary clinic run by Dr. David Merrit (Adam Kotz) and his wife Sarah (Gillian Anderson). Garrigan quickly becomes attracted to Sarah, who enjoys his attention but refuses to engage in an extramarital affair with him.
Coinciding with Garrigan's arrival in Uganda, General Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) is concluding a successful coup d’état to overthrow incumbent president Milton Obote. The two men meet at the scene of a minor car accident, where Garrigan treats Amin's injured hand. Amin who admires Scotland for its long resilience under English rule, is delighted to discover the doctor's nationality. Garrigan is impressed by Amin's charisma, affability, and by his vision of an egalitarian golden age for Uganda. Their friendship is cemented when Amin exchanges his military shirt for Garrigan's "Scotland" T-shirt. Some days later, Amin invites Garrigan to become his personal physician and to take charge of modernising the country's health care system. Garrigan accepts, leaves the clinic, and moves to Kampala.
Garrigan soon becomes the president's trusted confidant. His role expanding far beyond the realm of medicine, he also becomes Amin's adviser on matters of state. Although he is aware of the shootings and executions going on around Kampala, Garrigan accepts Amin's explanation that cracking down on Obote's remaining supporters will bring a lasting peace to the country. However, the viewer sees that Garrigan has merely become an apologist for a repressive regime; the viewer is also aware that Garrigan's privileged lifestyle (which involves living in a spacious modern apartment, driving a Mercedes-Benz car, and attending pool parties at the presidential mansion) is being funded through the economic exploitation of the impoverished Ugandan people.
While serving as Amin's family physician, Garrigan discovers that the polygamous leader has ostracised the youngest of his three wives, Kay (Kerry Washington) because she has given birth to an epileptic son, Mackenzie. In the course of treating Mackenzie's condition, Garrigan comes to admire Kay's beauty, independence, and strength of spirit. The two become lovers.
Garrigan increasingly loses faith in Amin as he witnesses the president's increasing paranoia, brutality and xenophobia. When the dictator decides to expel Uganda's Asian minorities, and the British Foreign Office shows him photographic evidence that Amin's regime is perpetrating mass genocide against the Ugandan people, Garrigan decides he has seen enough. He resolves to return to Scotland. But when Amin learns of Garrigan's intentions, he confiscates the doctor's British passport and replaces it with a Ugandan one. When Garrigan appeals for help to the Foreign Office, one of its officials, to whom he had previously been rude and condescending, tells him that he has been so complicit with the regime's atrocities that the British will allow him to leave Uganda on one condition: Garrigan must use his role as Amin's personal physician to assassinate the dictator.
Garrigan's situation is further complicated when Kay informs him that she has become pregnant with his child. If her pregnancy becomes known to Amin, she will be murdered for her infidelity, so she begs Garrigan to carry out an abortion. Delayed by Amin's command that he attend a press conference for Western journalists, Garrigan fails to meet Kay at the appointed time; she concludes that she has been abandoned to her fate, and seeks out a primitive abortion in a nearby village, where she is apprehended by Amin's forces. When Garrigan searches for her, he finds only her savagely mutilated corpse. As he falls retching to his knees, Garrigan finally confronts the palpable inhumanity of Amin's regime. He decides that he must atone for his complicity, and avenge Kay's death, by assassinating the dictator.
When a hijacked aircraft is flown to Entebbe by four hijackers seeking asylum, Amin and other state officials rush to the scene, taking Garrigan along. At the airport, one of Amin's bodyguards discovers Garrigan's plot to poison Amin, under the ruse of giving him pills for a headache. His treachery revealed, Garrigan is beaten by Amin's henchmen. The president discloses that he has been aware all along of the doctor's sexual relationship with his youngest wife, and informs Garrigan that his village traditionally punishes infidelity by hanging the culprit from a tree by his skin until he is dead. He declares that Garrigan's own death will be the only true thing that the young doctor will have accomplished in a life guided by falsehood, deceit and irresponsibility. Amin's henchmen pierce Garrigan's chest with meat hooks and string him up while Amin looks on.
When the hijackers agree to release all hostages except those of Israeli origin, the men temporarily leave Garrigan broken and bleeding on the floor so that they can oversee the release. Garrigan's medical colleague Dr. Junju (David Oyelowo) takes advantage of the distraction to come to Garrigan's rescue. In exchange for a promise that Garrigan will tell the world the truth about Amin's brutal regime, Junju dresses Garrigan and wipes the blood from his face so that he can sneak aboard the plane that will carry the freed hostages out of Uganda. At the film's conclusion, the plane soars into the skies with Garrigan on board, leaving a furious Amin behind. For his act of compassion in helping Garrigan escape, Junju is executed on the spot by Amin's soldiers. The film closes with archival footage of the real Amin and the following text:
The Last King of Scotland received a limited release in the United States on 27 September 2006, with a UK release on 12 January 2007, a French release on 14 February 2007 and a German release on 15 March 2007. In the United States the film was rated "R" by the MPAA for strong violence, gruesome images, nudity and strong language.
In the United States and Canada, the film earned $17,606,684 at the box office. In the United Kingdom, the film took $11,131,918. Its combined worldwide gross was $48,362,207., Box Office Mojo
The film was released on DVD in North America on 17 April 2007.
Whitaker received outstanding critical acclaim for his performance as dictator Idi Amin in the film. He won the Best Leading Actor award at the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors' Guild and the BAFTAs, in addition to awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics' Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics' Association, the National Board of Review and many other critics awards, for a total of at least 23 major awards, with at least one more nomination.
The film was received well in Uganda, where it premiered two days before Whitaker won the Best Actor award. Sarah Grainger (18 February 2007). , BBC, Accessed 23 May 2008.
The film received a 2007 BAFTA Award for Best British Film and the BAFTA award for Best Adapted Screenplay, in addition to receiving nominations for Best Film. James McAvoy was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
The film was also considered a financial success, grossing over $48,360,000, 8 times its budget.http
While the character of Idi Amin and the events surrounding him in the movie are mostly factual, Garrigan is a fictional character. His story is loosely based on events in the life of English-born Bob Astles. Like the novel on which it is based, the film mixes fiction with real events in Ugandan history to give an impression of Amin and Uganda under his authoritarian rule. While the basic events of Amin's life are followed, the film often departs from actual history in the details of particular events.
In real life and in the book, Kay Amin was made pregnant by her lover Dr. Mbalu Mukasa. She died during a botched abortion operation by Mukasa, who subsequently committed suicide. Daily Monitor, accessed, 12 December 2009. Bob Astles, upon whom the character of Dr. Nicholas Garrigan is based, believes that her body was cut up not on Amin's orders, but by Mukasa while attempting to hide it. Amin never had a son named Campbell.
The closing text indicated that the international community condemned Idi Amin for his complicity in the Entebbe hostage crisis. However, in actuality, the United Nations attempted to condemn Israel for the rescue operationTeltsch, Kathleen. New York Times. 10 July 1976. (Section: The Week In Review), under the leadership of Kurt Waldheim.
Although the film gave the impression that hostages were allowed to leave based upon whether or not they were Israeli, in truth the decision was made based upon whether or not individual hostages were of Jewish heritage or not; hostages forced to remain included Jews from France, for instance. Furthermore, despite the wording of the film's coda, three hostages died during Operation Entebbe. The body of a fourth hostage, 75-year-old Dora Bloch, who was killed by Ugandan Army officers at a nearby hospital, was eventually returned to Israel. New York Times, p. A3, 4 June 1979.
NotesThis text has been derived from The Last King of Scotland (film) on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0