Directed by Kevin Macdonald, The Last King of Scotland is an adaptation of Author Giles Forden’s novel. While this film is a book adaptation, it also has an incredible amount of historical accuracy to the source material. Set in Uganda between the years 1971 and 1976, this film centers around the newly, self-appointed President of Uganda, Idi Amin, played by Forest Whitaker, and his relationship with his confidant and personal physician Nicholas Garrigan, played by James McAvoy.
The first question many people ask when they see the film is, were these people actually real? President Idi Amin was indeed a real person who took over the country of Uganda through a coup d’état against incumbent president Milton Obote. Born sometime between 1923 and 1928, Amin was abandoned by his father and recruited to the British colonial army, where he served for eight years. Afterwards, Amin quickly rose to prominence in Ugandan politics and military, eventually becoming commander of the Ugandan army. While President Milton Obote was on a foreign trip, Amin took his opportunity and seized control of the country for himself. He would rule Uganda from 1971 to 1979 before being overthrown himself.
The more I find myself immersed in literary study, the more I am at risk of taking for granted why I do it. I study literature because it is my passion and because I want to make it my profession. Therefore, to reflect on the value of linking literary study to a study of history, the linking that has become a common practice in the course of my studies, I asked for the opinion of others. The “others” happened to be my 13-year-old son and his best friend. I asked them: if you have read the book, why would you be persuaded to learn about the author’s life and about the historical moment in which she created her work? It translated to the boys as: why bother to do all this extra reading? They were happy to help and their answers, short and sweet, gave me a lot to think on. To the insightful middle-school student, the main value of approaching literature with history in mind is to discover the many layers of meaning and to relate to the author, or, as Stephen Greenblatt puts it in his essay “The Circulation of Social Energy,” to answer to “the desire to speak with the dead” (1).
Welcome to Jakob’s From Fact to Film! Hundreds of films like to boast that their films are based on true stories, but just how true is this? Surely events that are important enough for a theatrical portrayal would be far too boring for an audience to sit through. However, this is rarely the case. In reality, fact can be just as, if not more, interesting than fiction. Despite this, movie companies tend to merely base these films on the barest of truths, keeping the general idea of the historical event intact, though sometimes that can’t even be accomplished. Instead, they focus more on themes and ideals that they believe would draw in bigger audiences. This is where I come in. The goal I have made for this blog is to discover just how accurately companies can keep their movies to reality, while still being able to make an entertaining piece of media. Our first look will be at the 1993 American Western, Tombstone.
This week’s featured poem from Slate is entitled Historyand is written by Angie Estes. As always, I’d like to encourage you all to check out the audio version of this poem, as read by Angie Estes on the Slate arts webpage. This poem in particular has some great images and truly evocative language, so check it out!
According to the bio on her website, Angie Estes has been published very widely in her career. She is the author of four books, the most recent one being Tryst (Oberlin College Press, 2009), which was selected as one of two finalists for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. Her first book, The Uses of Passion (1995), was the winner of the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in many literary magazines such as The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and Boston Review. Her essays have appeared in FIELD, Lyric Poetry Review, and Little Women: Norton Critical Edition. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and many grants and residencies. She is on the faculty of Ashland University’s low residency MFA program.