Monday, January 29, 2007

Opinions expressed in this blog reflect only those of the blogger

*Spoiler alert level: This blog entry contains some details of "The Last King of Scotland" that might either be heard from an inconsiderate speaker at a party or read in a somewhat detailed review of the movie. Be warned.

Jeffrey and I saw "The Last King of Scotland" yesterday. I think Forest Whitaker was very good and scary as Idi Amin and the movie was definitely compelling, but a couple things are not sitting quite right with me about the movie. It's seen through the eyes of a young Scottish doctor who, through happenstance and personality, becomes Amin's personal doctor and then closest personal adviser. The doctor, Nicholas Garrigan, also is oversexed and has the habit of going after married women.

Well, this guy never existed. Why is it that when the story of a brutal dictator who killed and tortured at least 300,000 people in his country (some accounts list 500,000) is told, it has to be through the eyes of a fictional character? It's like the drama of this person who is the embodiment of homicidal madness is not enough. They have to sex it up with a white guy. I don't know if that's a commentary on the filmmakers or who they think their audience is or their actual audience.

Also, there's not a preponderance of violence in the film, which is fine. What is there is pretty intense, cheaply amplified with loud, percussive music. (Of course, during these scenes I was burrowed in Jeffrey's shoulder, yelling, "Protect me!") But the stomach-churning scene of torture (that seems to last forever) is on ... a fictional white guy. Again, hundreds of thousands of actual Ugandans die during the time frame of the movie, but the most you see of them is black and white pictures. And yes, they're horrible photos, but they flash on the screen so fast you can barely make them out. I just wonder whether the violence/race/reality disparities reflect some hidden and not-yet-discerned biases.

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