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Idi Amin (The Last King of Scotland)

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I may wear the uniform of a general. But in my heart, I am a simple man. I am you.
~ Idi Amin Dada in "The Last King of Scotland" luring the Ugandans into his trap
Idi Amin Dada
Amin-forest whitaker

Idi Amin portrayed by Forest Whitaker

is the main villain in The Last King of Scotland and was portrayed by Forest Whitaker. He was also based on  a real life dictator of the same name who rose to power in 1971 from a bloody military coup against the former president of Uganda Milton Obote who was away in Singapore when Amin took power. Amin turned Uganda into a famine and poverty-ridden wasteland. His rule was characterised by gross human rights abuse, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings, Nepotism, corruption and gross economic mismanagement; he murdered an estimated 300,000 Ugandans and left children without their parents. He even mutilated his own wife and slaughtered his ministers. After executions were carried out, Amin usually fed his victims to the crocodiles or simply tossed their bodies into the Nile River. He ruled Uganda from 1971 to 1979 until he was officially thrown out of power when he started a war with his neighbouring country Tanzania and lost. But until his death, Amin felt that his country needed him and was never brought to justice for his terrible crimes.

In the movie General Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) overthrows incumbent president Milton Obote in a coup d'état. Nicholas Garrigan (the films main protagonist) 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 because she has given birth to an epileptic son, Mackenzie . 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, 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, 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.

Trivia

  • Forest Whitaker, who portrayed this murderous dictator, received an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a SAG and a BAFTA among others for his performance.
  • Forest Whitaker prepared for this role by meeting with many of Amin's minsters and trusted confidants, learning how to play the accordion and speak Swahili

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