Lots of folks have said that Barbet Schroeder's cinematic masterpiece and ballsy documentary "General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait" is chilling and horrifying. Let's set the record straight: no, it's not.
It's funny. It's downright hysterical. And it's absolutely REQUIRED viewing to get a better perspective of this Ugandan success story, this uniquely self-made man, this 6 foot 4 250 pound colossus of sheer destruction and unabetted cannibalism, Ugandan heavyweight boxing champ, designer of epaulette-and-jodphur laden uniforms, former British colonial army sergeant, Army Chief of Staff under doomed former Ugandan President Milton Obote, and once-and-future King of the Sea. Oh, and according to Idi, he could talk to the lions and the crocodiles, too.
Wow---Idi Amin lived a crazy life, didn't he? And Barbet Schroeder, bless him and his intergalactic-extra-gigantic man-orbs, managed to catch all of this insanity on film. That film is "General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait".
WATCH!---as the friendly, helpful, think globally act locally Idi Amin----
*talks to the animals, including crocodiles and lions!
*shoots his AK-47 and stomps around in his designer camouflage gear!
*stages a mock invasion of the Golan heights, with helicopters and tanks! Watch Idi point out all his menacing metallic armored monsters like a 3-year-old schoolkid!
*Dresses down a cowering cabinet (the foreign minister is later found floating upside down in the Nile, ah well), and chews out a bunch of doctors for drunkeness. In the Islamic Shiny Happy World of Idi Amin, cannibalism was in! Torture was in! Invading Tanzania and killing Kenyan students was in! Taking a toddle was, evidently, way *way* out.
*Wins a swimming contest!
*Shakes a spear threateningly and plays the accordion at a state function and dancing party!
*Basically performs smashingly as a perfect Third-World villain (with a striking resemblance to child-actor and "Diff'rent Strokes" star Gary Coleman---or is that just me?) who could easily be a central casting dream from the old "Johnny Quest" cartoon!
Really, Barbet Schroeder was an amazing filmmaker. More amazing is that he got what he did---more than could be believed---on film. And the amazing thing is, Idi Amin gave him full, unfettered access! Amin thought this would be a propoganda coup! Schroeder just lets Idi Amin be Idi Amin, and it is marvellous to watch the General expound: on war, on Uganda, on destiny, on boxing, on the Jews, on Hitler. Especially Hitler. Barbet risks his own neck to ask Idi a pointed question on his fascist idol, and Idi grins, and glowers, and chuckles amiably, and then purrs "why do you ask me about Hitler? Why Hitler"?
Why, indeed, Idi. Why indeed.