The Last King Of Scotland (Blu-ray)
I do enjoy watching historic events that I know nothing about told through film. It’s so much easier than when I was in ninth grade history class using every ounce of energy to fight the sleep caused by boredom. Sleep always won and my fight was pretty weak. THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND is a fictional account, but one which incorporates real events. It tells the story of the erratic President of Uganda, Idi Amin, in 1970 and the influence of a young Scottish Doctor who gets a little too close to the situation. His regime became notorious for it’s brutality. By 1978 it was estimated that 300,000 Ugandans had been killed.
In the early 1970s, Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) is a young idealistic Scottish doctor, who comes to Uganda to assist in a small hospital. By chance, he is called upon to medically assist the new President, Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker), who promises a golden age for the African nation. Idi Amin immediately is drawn to Garrigan and offers him a senior position in the national health department and to be his personal physician. From there he quickly becomes one of Amin’s closest advisers. As time passes, Amin becomes increasingly irrational, fearing assassination and not trusting anyone. His insanity affects Uganda in a murderous intolerable rampage. Garrigan begins to realize that he is in too deep with the aggressive dictator who will never let him go. If he really wants to make a difference he must take risky actions that could mean his death.
The acting is nothing short of phenomenal. Forest Whitaker fully becomes President Idi Amin. I’ve always felt Whitaker was great actor and he finally received a role in which he gets to shine. Most of the time he plays a bit of a mousy, kind character. Here he has a massive presence, seemingly ten feet tall and could stand up to any actor. He pulls off a range of emotions as a charismatic yet horrifically terrifying dictator. His Academy Award is well deserved. James McAvoy is an actor who I think has a huge future. When I first came across him I had my doubts but he continues to prove me wrong. He has a likeable presence that the audience is able to get behind even if his character is in the wrong, which was a very important and fine line that this role demanded. He’s quickly becoming one of my personal favorite actors.
This is an exciting political thriller. It’s definitely Garrigan’s story and the director wisely leads us in slowly. With the help of McAvoy, we get on board with this character and join in on his adventure. There are a few character choices that I have a problem with, that the filmmakers no doubt took liberty to add a more exciting element. It’s about 30 minutes into the film before we are introduced to Amin, who’s presence over takes the film and leads us into a more fearful area for Garrigan and the people of Uganda. The music, cinematography and editing help push this story in a more edge of your seat thriller rather than a boring historic retelling.
Video: The Widescreen 2.35:1 transfer looks great. The different colors worn by the people and land are vibrant and pop right out.
Audio: The 5.1 DTS-HD audio track sounds great especially with the Ugandan music that played throughout the picture.
Commentary By Director Kevin MacDonald: MacDonald is very informative, providing mostly information on some of the ease and difficulties of working in a smaller country and the tons of extras who actually thought Whitaker was their political leader. He gives specific stories with each scene and keeps things moving and interesting.
7 Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary By Director Kevin MacDonald (11:53): The commentary is insightful to why MacDonald shot these scenes but all were rightfully discarded or cut down to the time seen in the film.
Forest Whitaker Idi Amin Featurette (5:59): A fluff piece with mostly clips from the film. We do get a couple of interesting insights from Whitaker.
Capturing Idi Amin Documentary (29:04): This is a very interesting look at the history of Idi Amin with some interviews from Ugandans who were present during his reign. It also is very candid on some of the truths and liberties the film made about the story. It explains what is real and not real which I appreciated, specifically about the affair from Idi Amin’s second wife who was never with the white man. I found this particularly interesting since I thought it was a weaker part of the story within the film.
Fox Movie Channel presents Casting Session – The Last King Of Scotland (8:36): Specifically about the Kevin MacDonald being chosen as director for the film then Forest Whitaker’s process of being cast as Idi Amin. He had his naysayers before his audition.