The Last King of Scotland [DVD] 
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Oscar-winning drama starring Forest Whitaker. When a naive young Scottish doctor, Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), arrives in 1970s Uganda hoping for fun, sun and to lend a helping hand, he finds himself instead on a shocking ride into the darkest realm on earth. Befriended by the charismatic new leader, Idi Amin (Whitaker), and appointed as his personal physician, Nicholas is originally blinded by his larger-than-life and charming persona. But when the terrible truth of his despotic rule is revealed, he must fight for both his life and soul against one of the cruelest leaders in history.
As the evil Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, Forest Whitaker gives an unforgettable performance in The Last King of Scotland. Powerfully illustrating the terrible truth that absolute power corrupts absolutely, this fictionalised chronicle of Amin's rise and fall is based on the acclaimed novel by Giles Foden, in which Amin's despotic reign of terror is viewed through the eyes of Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), a Scottish doctor who arrives in Uganda in the early 1970s to serve as Amin's personal physician. His outsider's perspective causes him to be initially impressed by Amin's calculated rise to power, but as the story progresses--and as Whitaker's award-worthy performance grows increasingly monstrous--The Last King of Scotland turns into a pointed examination of how independent Uganda (a British colony until 1962) became a breeding ground for Amin's genocidal tyranny. As Whitaker plays him, Amin is both seductive and horribly destructive--sometimes in the same breath--and McAvoy effectively conveys the tragic cost of his character's naiveté, which grows increasingly prone to exploitation. As directed by Kevin Macdonald (who made the riveting semi-documentary Touching the Void), this potent cautionary tale my prompt some viewers to check out Barbet Schroeder's equally revealing documentary General Idi Amin Dada, an essential source for much of this film's authentic detail. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
Upon arrival at the mission hospital - a day late - he soon finds that the heavy clinical workload is both emotionally overwhelming and not to his taste. A chance meeting with newly-installed president Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) leads to an offer he can hardly refuse to become the president's personal physician. However he soon finds that he is in over his head and has to turn for help to the bourgeois types in the British establishment that he had come to Africa to avoid.
James McAvoy's character is a thrill-seeking charmer who smokes, drinks and services his libido with as many attractive women as he can. Both he and Idi Amin see something of themselves in each others eyes, though Idi Amin wins hands down in the psychopathy stakes. Forest Whitaker plays the fickle egotist brilliantly and avoids the pantomime psycho act in favour of a more believable and even sympathetic character - the film shows that he's not just being paranoid, they really are out to get him!
On the down side, Dr Garrigan at times felt like a gap-yearing member of the ipod generation who had been time-warped into a Graham Greene story. Would a young doctor in 1970 be so naive and reckless?
This film has great scenery and characters and accurately depicts the clothes, buildings and vehicles of the time and place it is set. Well worth seeing more than once.
There Nicholas meets the newly self-installed president of the country, General Idi Amin. During a meeting between the two, where Nicholas treats an injury picked up by Amin during an accident, the dictator finds out that Nicholas is Scottish. Prompted by his love of all things Highland, Amin sweeps the young and impressionable Scot into the inner circle of his government before Nicholas has time to consider the danger signs.
Gillian Anderson, who lays on a near fautless British accent not for the only time in her career, is sadly underused to the point of irrelevance. Playing a veteran health worker who has seen the likes of Amin before, she tries to warn Nicholas of the dangers of getting swept along by the dictator's charisma, but to no avail.
Forest Whitaker's performance as Amin is stellar. A kind of black Josef Stalin, he dominates every scene he's in, his moods swinging with paranoid sharpness and his trust shattering at so much as a perceived funny look from an underling.
Viewers should know that there are two extremely unpleasant scenes at the end of the film. These come as even more of a shock after Nicholas has spent so much of the story revelling in the Ugandan high-life, only becoming aware of his patron's evil excesses once they reach their worst depths.Read more ›
The director, Kevin MacDonald brings his skills as an award winning documentary maker to the film with great penchant and handles the quite tricky subject matter delicately, humorously and, more importantly, impartially, and delivers a story that could have easily become unpalatable and unpleasant in the hands of a tactless director. A portrayal of the life and times of a brutal dictator like Idi Amin is not as easy as it may seem. He was atrocious, brutally menacing and was obnoxious to even those who were closest to him. If he had any charisma to speak of, that was attributable to his intimidating presence rather than to any amiability. Forest Whitaker's stupendous and award winning portrayal of Amin therefore is central to the success of this film, simply because he brings in his captivating charisma to the role and, being the great actor he is, effortlessly blends in the menace that the brutal dictator used to control his hapless subjects with. The result is that, whenever the character appears, he overwhelmingly commands from the viewer affection and revulsion in equal measure, and in that order, and, in doing so, inescapably renders Amin more affable than he actually was to his defenceless subjects.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very well acted by all concerned and Kevin McDonald's direction is tight and skilled, but it still lacks a certain something. A good movie if not a graet one.Published 1 month ago by Marty 1969
This story is rather unbelievable in itself - naïve doctor becomes crony of mad dictator on the basis of a Scotland football shirt - but the part of Amin is indeed superbly played... Read morePublished 2 months ago by D. J. Favager
Oscar-worthy performance of Forrest Whitaker. I really hate him in this movie.Published 4 months ago by Ron Booden