The Last King of Scotland

  • Directors: Kevin Macdonald
  • Producers:
  • Writers: Novel, Giles Foden, Screenplay, Peter Morgan, Jeremy Brock
  • Genres: Biography, Drama, History, Thriller
  • Actors: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Kerry Washington, Simon McBurney, Gillian Anderson

The film opens in Scotland in 1970 as Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) graduates from medical school. Faced with the dull prospect of joining his bourgeois father in the family’s village practice, he decides instead to seek adventure abroad by taking up a position in a Ugandan missionary clinic run by Dr. David Merrit (Adam Kotz) and his wife Sarah (Gillian Anderson). Garrigan quickly becomes attracted to Sarah; she enjoys his attentions, but refuses to engage in an extramarital affair with him. This reveals that one of Garrigan’s character flaws is his attraction to married women; this will become significant later in the film.

Coinciding with Garrigan’s arrival in Uganda, General Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) is concluding a successful coup d’état to overthrow incumbent president Milton Obote. The two men meet at the scene of a minor car accident, where Garrigan treats Amin’s injured hand. Amin who admires Scotland for its long resilience under English rule, is delighted to discover the doctor’s nationality. Garrigan is impressed by Amin’s charisma, affability, and by his vision of an egalitarian golden age for Uganda. Their friendship is cemented when Amin exchanges his military shirt for Garrigan’s “Scotland” T-shirt. Some days later, Amin invites Garrigan to become his personal physician and to take charge of modernising the country’s health care system. Garrigan accepts, leaves the clinic, and moves to Kampala.

Forty-eight hours later, Israeli forces stormed Entebbe and liberated all but one of the hostages. International public opinion turned against Amin for good. When he was finally overthrown in 1979, jubilant crowds poured onto the streets. His regime had killed more than 300,000 Ugandans and expelled tens of thousands of Asians who had made Uganda their home for years. Amin died in exile in Saudi Arabia on 16 August 2003. Nobody knows if that was the date he dreamed about.

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