October 14, 2010

Movie Review: Last King of Scotland

The movie Last King of Scotland addresses things we don't like to hear about. It tells about a man who commits one of the most heinous crimes of all: bringing false hope to a people desperately in need of hope--betraying his own people. They believe that he is different, that he will be the one to finally bring peace to their country. He does as the former rulers, however, and only ends abusing his power and bringing a new form of dictatorship.

The story of Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker), a former dictator of Uganda in the 1970s, is told through the eyes of a fictitious doctor, named Dr. Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy). Last King of Scotland is based loosely on true events. Garrigan has recently graduated from medical school and has no interest in helping his father with the family practice. Instead, he randomly chooses Uganda as his new place to live, work, and play. He ends up working in a small village with tribal people as his patients. Garrigan is the typical idealistic youth. He pictures Uganda as being maybe "the toughest job he'll ever love." His main interest remains scoring with chicks, whether it's a random native he meets on a bus or the wife of his new boss.
Uganda itself is in a time of celebration because Amin has come to power. He is the new President, and the people of Uganda excitedly welcome him to power. "He fights for the people," one national tells Garrigan. On the way home from a political rally, Garrigan gets the chance to meet Amin in person when the President is in need of a doctor. Amin is impressed when Garrigan acts calmly in a crisis, and Amin then offers Garrigan the chance to be his personal doctor.

Garrigan is charmed by the new President. He is charismatic and powerful. And it's nice to be the new pet of a powerful man. The President has three beautiful wives; in particular, Garrigan is charmed by Kay, the third wife. Garrigan leaves his idealistic job as a village doctor for the chance to live the charmed life at Amin's palace. He receives the chance to live in luxury and becomes one of the President's "most trusted advisors." The President also promises that Garrigan can have a great impact on people's lives through political influence. All seems glittery until the President begins to show signs that he is fighting for himself, rather than the people. Garrigan tries to abort his ties with the President, only to be told he can't leave.