Sunday, September 16, 2007
I know I'm late to the bandwagon, but Forest Whitaker's portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland is perhaps the finest performance I've ever seen. While Whitaker perfectly embodies the irresistible charisma and brutal egomania of the man, director Kevin Macdonald's accomplishment is no less great. It's probably the finest, most emotionally engrossing movie I've seen since The Lives of Others.
If you don't currently appreciate the the virtue and restraint of our American revolutionaries, this movie will definitely give you time for reflection. Bloody revolutions only lead to more perpetual cycles of blood as the liberators become the oppressors. If there's one lesson the 20th century has taught us repeatedly, it's this one. It's interesting, however, to see the fascination liberal intellectuals still have with the figure of Idi. A documentary accompanying the movie hardly dwelt at all on Idi's genocidal tendencies, preferring to sentimentally recall Idi's relentless verbal jabs at the British crown. The interviewees were fascinated with the way Idi "gave it" to English imperialist pigs. This then is what they consider to be the majority of Idi's legacy, rather than the mass, lazily unhidden graves constructed by his regime.