The Last King of Scotland

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Last King of Scotland A fictive Scottish white man (James McAvoy) is trumped up for the phony biography of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland (2006). Having the white man imposed on the tale provides for a western point of view for events that have nothing whatsoever to do with white people.

So right off the bat the film's got a racist or old-timey imperialist take on its post-imperialism subject. The Ugandan people & their suffering under monstrous rule is barely a side-issue in this retro film about how the only important thing in Africa is what happens with white people.

The young medical graduate is a boring horndog sort of dude & becomes the even more boring & wildly unlikely good-buddy of the dictator. The storytellers use this fatuously invented character for nothing better to do than to screw one of the members of the dictator's harem (Kerry Washington). Hey good story guys. Adventures of a boring Scott in a 1970s African harem.

How did any critic get beyond this assinine storyline to find something praiseworthy in such a miserable excuse for a film? I can only imagine that for the larger white audience, a story that heroizes a white guy at the expense of a continent. To have the black lead, Forest Whitaker, roaring about the set like a rabid gorilla fulfills exactly the stereotypical expectation white viewers & critics like to see proven "historical" rather than merely racist.

The Last King of ScotlandAnd far from Forest bringing depth to the madness of a dictator, gads, even Mr. T could've thrown himself about a set with this much subtlty. In fact Mr. T would've been better casting. "A tour de force performance for Mr. T!" would make ever so much more sense.

Whitie Scott went to Africa to escape his mean ol' father. The tale that unfolds has little to no believability as history but seems almost to have been adapted from an awful antique stage play promoting the English Empire, & showing how awful things must become if the fuzzy wuzzies are no longer restrained by white people.

I tried to appreciate the film on the level of an "update" on the British jungle picture for which it is expected that some dull Brit will be the hero & natives no more than local color in the background of a white man's adventures. I also tried to appreciate that a potentially fine actor like Forest Whitaker had a big roll. But the film just seemed horrible at every point & even Forest's acting was a bit of a giggle.

How this antic overwrought blackface performance won Forest a best actor Oscar & other awards is beyond me, except that most award-givers are white people who are apt to relate better to a story sticking closest to a made-up white protagonist. That's the Africa we whities have thirsted for since silent era Tarzans.

Someone decided Forest had to play this role in blackface. The appalling make-up decision is frequently seen blotched from uneven application or striped with streaks of sweat washing some of the blackface off. Sometimes he was black as a black crayon, other times about half his actual coloring showed through the walnut dye.

The Last King of ScotlandHe plays Idi Amin as a manic-depressive as well as paranoic sociopath. It's painful to see Forest throwing himself about like a hammy over actor playing to the peanut gallery in some 1920 vaudeville theater where blackface on black comedians was expected.

Donnell Boose at said it clearly: "Instead of seeing the social affects of Amin's brutal rule on the Ugandan people, I saw the story of a fictionalized white guy and his travails in Africa," & rightly asks, "Now, I don't know maybe it's just me, but I have issues with blackface. Anybody feel me?" I feel ya.

Whity Scott is even more unlikely than Anna of Anna & the King, & one half expects the Scott to teach Idi Amin to waltz. I really just wanted Amin to put a bullet in the horny little bastards's face to get rid of him from the story. Then there might've been room in the film to actual delve into how such a man came to power in the first place, the resultant mass slaughter under Amin being about a nation & its people, not about a white man screwing the dictator's favorite bride.

The only good turn of plot is in torturing the dumbass Scott. If the story had been honest in depicting a monstrous ruler, it would never have been filtered through a tale of a white man's experiences as conqueror of the dictator's woman & primary figure the audience roots for, with the only hint of black heroism being the willingness of one good black man to die for no reason but to help whitey live. Oh shades of Gunga Din.

The true victims of Amin's terror are just background noise for Whitie Scott's close call. This movie sucks in just so many ways. What we need now is a film about the underground railroad, which would be all about how awful slavery was for some white guy, perhaps a North Carollina Scott, co-starring Forest Whitaker lazyin' under a magnolia tree with his banjo.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

[ Film Home ] - [ Film Reviews Index ]
[ Where to Send DVDs for Review ] - [ Paghat's Giftshop ]