“The Last King of Scotland” is a 2006 film directed by Kevin Macdonald. It was a film adaptation loosely based on the novel of the same name (1998) by English author Giles Foden.
Set in Uganda in the 1970s, it depicts how Idi Amin became a dictator after seizing political power through the perspective of a fictional Scottish doctor.
Screenplay by Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock. It was a UK–Germany co-production. Languages are English and Swahili. 121 minutes.
Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) graduates from medical school in Scotland, and he starts working as a doctor in Uganda just after military officer Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) seized power in a military coup in 1971 and became the new president.
Garrigan is attracted by Amin’s charismatic appeal. He becomes Amin’s personal physician.
After being attacked by dissident guerrillas, Amin commits genocide against Ugandans to eliminate all political opposition. Garrigan is forced to fight for his life as he tries to escape Amin’s grasp.
“The Last King of Scotland” is a historical drama/political thriller film based on historical facts, such as the 1971 Ugandan coup d’état, dictatorship and genocide by Amin, expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972, and the 1976 Operation Entebbe. The film depicts a Scottish doctor’s struggle for survival as a suspenseful drama, interweaving fiction and these historical facts.
Need to note that the film contains shocking and horrible scenes such as slaughter and torture.
Idi Amin was one of the most brutal military dictators to wield power in post-independence Africa. International observers and human rights groups estimate that between 100,000 and 500,000 Ugandans were killed under his regime.
Though Dr. Garrigan in Foden’s novel and this film is a fictional character, Garrigan’s character setting was inspired by real-life figures connected with Amin, such as British soldier and colonial officer Bob Astles and Scottish doctor Wilson Carswell.
The title “The Last King of Scotland” is derived from the historical fact that Amin called himself so in a message to Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom. Amin found a similarity between Scotland’s and Uganda’s struggles for independence from British rule.
Foden says that his novel is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Macbeth” (c. 1603–1607). In “Macbeth”, Macbeth murders King Duncan and becomes the King of Scotland, but he wraps himself up in suspicion and becomes a murderous tyrant. In “The Last King of Scotland”, Amin is portrayed as a character just like Macbeth.
The film was shot on location in Uganda and Scotland.
The most interesting part of this film is the performance of Forest Whitaker, who played the role of Amin as a multifaceted character well. Whitaker won the best leading actor award at the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the BAFTAs.
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Plot (Spoiler Alert)
In 1970, Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) graduates from medical school at the University of Edinburgh. He decides to work in Uganda from motives of adventure and rebel against his father.
In the village of Mugambo, Uganda, Garrigan starts working as a doctor at a clinic run by Dr. David Merrit and his wife, Sarah.
In 1971, Idi Amin overthrows President Milton Obote’s regime in a military coup and becomes the new president.
Garrigan sees Amin giving a speech at the village, and he is attracted by Amin’s charismatic appeal.
Garrigan gets to know Amin after he treats Amin’s hand sprain. Amin likes Garrigan because he has empathy with the Scottish people who resisted the English. Amin employs Garrigan as his personal physician, and makes him work in the hospital in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, to modernize Uganda’s health care system.
Garrigan becomes intimate with Amin, and Amin makes Garrigan one of his close advisers.
Garrigan treats an epileptic seizure of Mackenzie, a son of Amin’s third wife Kay. Amin gives Garrigan a Mercedes in thanks for his treatment of Mackenzie.
Amin is attacked by dissident guerrillas, who are Obote supporters, on the way to the airport with Garrigan behind the wheel, and he has a narrow escape from death.
Amin suspects that somebody has betrayed him. He can’t trust anybody because he believes that he is surrounded by traitors. He entrusts security around him to Captain Masanga.
Garrigan reports to Amin that he saw Minister of Health Jonah Wasswa talking with a white man in a bar.
Critics of Amin’s regime become missing one after another. Wasswa also disappears.
Garrigan offers his resignation to Amin to return to Scotland, but Amin persuades him to stay.
Kay seduces Garrigan, and Garrigan has a sexual relationship with her. Kay tells Garrigan to get out of here.
Amin replaces Garrigan’s British passport with a Ugandan one to prevent him from escaping.
Garrigan seeks help from British diplomat Stone. Stone tells Garrigan that Amin commits genocide against Ugandans to eliminate all political opposition. Thousands of Acholi and Langi soldiers of the Uganda Army were massacred by Amin. Amin purged some members of his cabinet too, including Health Minister Wasswa.
Stone tells Garrigan to use his position as a doctor to assassinate Amin.
Amin exiles Uganda’s Asian population from his country.
Kay informs Garrigan that she has become pregnant with his child. Garrigan tries to make her get an abortion secretly, but Amin finds that Kay betrayed him and committed adultery. Amin orders his henchmen to slaughter Kay by sewing her legs on her upper body and her arms on her lower body after amputating her arms and legs.
Garrigan gives Amin poison as headache pills to assassinate him.
Air France Flight 139 is hijacked by pro-Palestinian terrorists, and it lands at Entebbe Airport, Uganda. Amin rushes to the scene, taking Garrigan along.
Masanga discovers that Garrigan tried to assassinate Amin. Garrigan is confined in a room at the airport by Amin’s henchmen and is severely assaulted by them.
Amin was aware that Garrigan had a relationship with Kay. Amin orders his henchmen to hang Garrigan after piercing his chest with meat hooks.
Amin arranges a plane for the release of non-Israeli hostages.
Former personal physician for Amin, Dr. Junju gives Garrigan first aid and releases him while Amin’s henchmen are away. Junju asks Garrigan to tell the world the truth about Amin.
Garrigan escapes from Uganda, blending into the crowd of freed hostages who fly to Paris. Junju is shot by Masanga to death.