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Power Seduces in The Last King of Scotland

By Glenn BossikThe Last King of Scotland

The Last King of Scotland is a fascinating drama. It takes us inside the brutal regime of Idi Amin, the former Ugandan dictator, revealing his disturbing personality. The filmmakers show us Amin through the eyes of the fictional protagonist, Nicholas Garrigan, a young doctor who seeks adventure without considering the consequences.

Screenwriters Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock skillfully develop
the characters by focusing on Garrigan. In one scene, the young
Scottish doctor screams in frustration while alone in his room.
He has just graduated from medical school but dreads the idea of spending his life as a family doctor. He later travels to Uganda to escape from his impending career in his father’s medical practice.
The writers show that his lust for forbidden things leads him into nightmarish situations. We see him attempting to seduce Sarah, a married woman who helps run a medical clinic. She spurns his advances, so he agrees to work for Idi Amin. Later, he successfully seduces one of Amin’s wives, a gentle woman named Kay. However, he imperils his own life and Kay’s by doing so.

Director Kevin Macdonald creates an edge-of-your-seat mood by linking pleasure to pain. HeNicholas Garrigan shows us the excitement that Nicholas Garrigan experiences
after being hired as the personal physician of Idi Amin. But Macdonald then throws us off balance with Amin’s abrupt
and wild mood swings. In one scene, Amin chastises
Garrigan for not advising him against expelling Asian workers
from Uganda. When Garrigan claims to have given the proper
advice, Amin says: “But you did not persuade me, Nicholas. You did not persuade me.”

Forest Whitaker portrays a frightening and imposing Idi Amin, capturing the dictator’s charisma and madness. In one scene, Whitaker portrays Amin effortlessly, speaking to Ugandan villagers as their new leader and saying: “I am a simple man just like you….I am you.” Idi Amin

James McAvoy is convincing as Nicholas Garrigan, the young Scottish doctor who becomes Amin’s most trusted advisor.
We fear for Garrigan. In one scene, he is horrified after
seeing photographs of people who have been slaughtered by Amin’s soldiers. His reaction is gut-wrenching.

To create a drama with the realism of The Last King of Scotland, ask yourself several questions:

  1. Who is your protagonist (the hero)? Describe the physical and psychological characteristics that define him. How does his appearance reflect his personality? Is he a workaholic, a health nut, a lonely person? What is his goal in life? What is the goal of the antagonist (the villain)? Does he crave conquest, love, wealth? Describe his physical appearance.
  2. What is your protagonist’s main flaw? Describe his psychological weakness, the personality trait that leads to his confrontation with the antagonist.

  3. When does your story take place? Is it set during the present day, the past, or the future? How is the time period of the story related to the main conflict?

  4. Where does the story take place? Describe the location. Is it a haunted house, a submarine, an office building? What role does this location play in the main conflict of the story?

  5. Why does your protagonist end up in a conflict with the antagonist? Is your protagonist attracted to danger? Does it excite him? Does he pursue dangerous goals?

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