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The Last King of Scotland (film)

The Last King of Scotland
File:Last king of scotland uk.jpg
UK Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kevin MacDonald
Produced by Charles Steel
Lisa Bryer
Andrea Calderwood
Screenplay by Peter Morgan
Jeremy Brock
Based on The Last King of Scotland 
by Giles Foden
Starring Forest Whitaker
James McAvoy
Kerry Washington
Simon McBurney
Gillian Anderson
Music by Alex Heffes
Cinematography Anthony Dod Mantle
Edited by Justine Wright
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • 27 September 2006 (2006-09-27) (United States)
  • 12 January 2007 (2007-01-12) (United Kingdom)
Running time
123 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $6 million[2]
Box office $48,363,516[2]

The Last King of Scotland is a 2006 British fiction drama film based on Giles Foden's novel of the same name, adapted by screenwriters Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock, and directed by Kevin MacDonald. The film was a co-production between companies from the United Kingdom and the United States, including Fox Searchlight Pictures and Film4.

The Last King of Scotland tells the fictional story of Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), a young Scottish doctor who travels to Uganda and becomes the personal physician to the dictator Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker). The film is based on factual events of Amin's rule and the title comes from a reporter in a press conference who wishes to verify whether Amin declared himself the King of Scotland. Amin was known to invent and adopt fanciful imperial titles for himself.

The Last King of Scotland received wide critical acclaim. Particular focus went to Whitaker, who received outstanding critical acclaim for his performance as dictator Idi Amin in the film. He won Best Actor at the Academy Awards among others, and the film was also a financial success.


In 1970, Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) graduates from medical school at the University of Edinburgh.[3] With dull prospects at home, he decides to seek adventure abroad by working at a Ugandan missionary clinic run by Dr. David Merrit (Adam Kotz) and his wife, Sarah (Gillian Anderson). Garrigan becomes attracted to Sarah, who enjoys the attention, but refuses to engage in an extramarital affair.

Meanwhile, General Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) overthrows incumbent president Milton Obote in a coup d'état. Garrigan sincerely believes Amin will help the country, while Sarah warns him of dictators who have taken over before. Garrigan is called to a minor car accident involving Amin where he treats his hand. During the incident Garrigan takes a gun and shoots a mortally wounded cow because no one else has the presence of mind to put it out of its misery. Amin is impressed by his quick action and initiative. Amin, fond of Scotland as a symbol of resilience and admiring the Scottish people for their resistance to the English, is delighted to discover Garrigan's nationality and exchanges his military shirt for Garrigan's Scotland shirt. Later, Amin invites Garrigan to become his personal physician and take charge of modernising the country's health care system.

Garrigan soon becomes Amin's trusted confidant and is relied on for much more than medical care, such as matters of state. Although Garrigan is aware of violence around Kampala, he accepts Amin's explanation that cracking down on the opposition will bring lasting peace to the country. Garrigan discovers that the polygamous leader has ostracised the youngest of his three wives, Kay (Kerry Washington), because she has given birth to an epileptic son, Mackenzie (Apollo Okwenje Omamo). When treating Mackenzie, Garrigan and Kay form a relationship and sleep with each other, but Kay tells him he must find a way to leave Uganda. Eventually, Garrigan begins to lose faith in Amin as he witnesses the increasing paranoia, repressive murders, and xenophobia in expelling South Asians from the country. Amin replaces Garrigan's British passport with a Ugandan one to prevent him from escaping, which leads Garrigan to frantically seek help from Stone (Simon McBurney), the local British Foreign Office representative. Garrigan is told the British will help him leave Uganda if he uses his position to assassinate Amin, but Garrigan refuses.

Kay informs Garrigan that she has become pregnant with his child, but later knows that Amin will murder her for infidelity if he discovers this, so she begs Garrigan for a secret abortion. Delayed by Amin's command that he attend a press conference with Western journalists, Garrigan fails to meet Kay at the appointed time. She concludes she has been abandoned and seeks out a primitive abortion in a nearby village, where she is apprehended by Amin's forces. Garrigan finds her savagely mutilated corpse on an autopsy table and falls retching to his knees, finally confronting the palpable inhumanity of Amin's regime and decides killing him will end it all.

A hijacked aircraft is flown to Entebbe by pro-Palestinian hijackers seeking asylum from agents of international law. Amin rushes to the scene to help them, taking Garrigan along. At the airport, one of Amin's bodyguards discovers Garrigan's plot to poison Amin, under the ruse of giving him pills for a headache. His treachery revealed, Garrigan is beaten by Amin's henchmen before Amin himself arrives and discloses he is aware of the relationship with Kay. As punishment, Garrigan's chest is pierced with meat hooks and he is hanged by his skin.

Amin arranges a plane for the release of non-Israeli passengers, and the torturers leave Garrigan bleeding on the floor while they relax in another room. Garrigan's medical colleague, Dr. Junju (David Oyelowo), takes advantage of the opportunity to rescue him. He urges Garrigan to tell the world the truth about Amin's regime, asserting that because Garrigan is white the world will believe him. Junju gives Garrigan his own jacket, enabling him to mingle unnoticed with the crowd of freed hostages and board the plane. When the torturers discover Garrigan's absence, Junju is shot dead while the plane departs with Garrigan on board. Amin is informed too late to prevent it, while Garrigan tearfully remembers the people of Uganda.

The epilogue shows real footage of Amin, as well as figures such as the 300,000 that died under his regime, and tells of his eventual 2003 death while in exile in Saudi Arabia.



Box Office

The Last King of Scotland received a limited release in the United States on 27 September 2006, with a UK release on 12 January 2007, a French release on 14 February 2007 and a German release on 15 March 2007. In the United States and Canada, the film earned $17,606,684 at the box office. In the United Kingdom, the film took $11,131,918. Its combined worldwide gross was $48,362,207.[4]

Critical response

The Last King of Scotland received positive reviews from critics and has a "certified fresh" score of 87% on Rotten tomatoes based on 181 reviews with an average score of 7.3 out of 10. The critical consensus states: "Forest Whitaker's performance as real-life megalomaniac dictator Idi Amin powers this fictionalized political thriller, a blunt and brutal tale about power and corruption".[5] The film also has a score of 74 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[6]


Academy Awards record
1. Best Actor (Forest Whitaker)
Golden Globe Awards record
1. Best Actor - Drama (Forest Whitaker)
BAFTA Awards record
1. Best British Film
2. Best Actor (Forest Whitaker)
3. Best Adapted Screenplay

Forest Whitaker received outstanding critical acclaim for his performance as dictator Idi Amin in the film. He won in the best leading actor category at the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors' Guild and the BAFTAs. In addition, Whitaker also won awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics' Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics' Association, the National Board of Review and many other critics awards, for a total of at least 23 major awards, with at least one more nomination.

The film received a 2007 BAFTA Award for Best British Film and the BAFTA award for Best Adapted Screenplay, in addition to receiving nominations for Best Film. James McAvoy was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

The film was received well in Uganda, where it premiered two days before Whitaker won the Best Actor Academy Award.[7]

Historical accuracy

While the character of Idi Amin and the events surrounding him in the movie are mostly factual, Garrigan is a fictional character. Foden has acknowledged that one real-life figure who contributed to the character Garrigan was English-born Bob Astles, who worked with Amin.[8] Another real-life figure who has been mentioned in connection with Garrigan is Scottish doctor Wilson Carswell.[9] Like the novel on which it is based, the film mixes fiction with real events in Ugandan history to give an impression of Amin and Uganda under his authoritarian rule. While the basic events of Amin's life are followed, the film often departs from actual history in the details of particular events.

In real life and in the book, Kay Amin was impregnated by her lover Dr. Mbalu Mukasa. She died during a botched abortion operation by Mukasa, who subsequently committed suicide.[10] Bob Astles believed that her body was mutilated not on Amin's orders, but by Mukasa while attempting to hide it. Amin never had a son named Campbell.

Contrary to the wording of the film's coda, three hostages died during Operation Entebbe. The body of a fourth hostage, 75-year-old Dora Bloch, who was killed by Ugandan Army officers at a nearby hospital in retaliation for Israel's actions, was eventually returned to Israel.[11] Some historians believe the film and its depiction of Amin are comparable with the Shakespearean character Macbeth. According to Giles Foden, the author of the book on which the screenplay is based, adapting William Shakespeare's title character from Macbeth as a third-world dictator is arguably plausible.[12]


  1. ^ DVD, 2006
  2. ^ a b "The Last King of Scotland (2006) - Box Office Mojo". 
  3. ^ "Interview". Random House. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "Last King of Scotland", Box Office Mojo
  5. ^ "The Last King of Scotland". 27 September 2006. 
  6. ^ "The Last King of Scotland". Metacritic. 
  7. ^ Sarah Grainger (18 February 2007). "Ugandan premiere for Last King", BBC, Accessed 23 May 2008.
  8. ^ "An Interview with Giles Foden". Random House. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  9. ^ Pells, Rachael (10 October 2014). "Douglas Carswell profile". Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "The myths surrounding Idi Amin." at the Wayback Machine (archived May 28, 2007) Daily Monitor, accessed, 12 December 2009.
  11. ^ "Body of Amin Victim Is Flown Back to Israel." New York Times, p. A3, 4 June 1979.
  12. ^ Foden, Gil (2 September 2004). "The African play". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 

External links

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