Bold, Compelling Historical Drama, 26 January 2007
Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom
Historical dramas in Africa are thin on the ground. Although awash with rich material,the sceptre of Rasicm has largely kept mainstream film makers away from Political drama on this volatile continent. Yet McDonalds’s tale is a triumph, with a towering performance from Forrest Whitaker as Idi Amin.
Ironically the narrative is driven not by Amin , but by James McCavoy as a young Scottish Doctor in search of adventure – who certainly finds it! He uncannily reprises Ewan McGreggors “Joie de vivre as a Scotsman” and his role allows Amin’s to “breathe”.The cinematography has a wonderful lush African feel to it whilst bravely eschewing the obvious “safari” shots.
Very few films simply show Africans as Africans – and this is one of this film’s great strengths. Well edited, and sprightly in pace, one episode zips into another making mincemeat of the two hour running time.
The beautiful Gillian Anderson has an understated love interest role at the start of the film as the undervalued wife of a Doctor manning a remote village medical centre. But the real action starts when Amin persuades the young Doctor to join him in Kampala.
Ironically the only stereotyping is of the British (English as far as McDonald is concerned) Consular officials as bumbling Colonial mealy -mouthed fools. It smacks of a joke for the Directors Scottish mates, and slightly undermines the restraint with which the other characters are drawn.
Apart from the savage climax as the Entebbe Hostage Crisis unfolds, the violence engulfing the country is only alluded to and hinted at. Amin is portrayed largely as a human, colourful, and humorous individual – not least when he is discussing extra marital liaisons with the young Doctor.
Although this is a fiction within an historical context it succeeds in both entertaining a s a story and illuminating pretty fairly one of Africa’s more notorious dictators