Sunday, May 4, 2008

General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait

This 1974 documentary film by French director Barbet Schroeder is a fascinating “self-portrait” of “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular” (as he modestly liked to describe himself).

It was made with the support and participation of the African dictator at the height of his power as ruler of Uganda. The film follows Amin closely in a series of formal and informal settings, combined with several short interviews in which Amin expounds his unconventional theories of politics, economics, and international relations. Amin is seen supervising the Ugandan paratrooper school, boating through a wildlife park, playing the accordion in a jazz band at a formal dinner, and staging a mock assault on a small hill representing the Golan Heights. Forced into exile just five years after the making of this film, Amin died in Saudi Arabia in 2003.

Given its quirky verisimilitude, the documentary is actually far more bizarre than semi-fictional movie “The Last King of Scotland” from a couple of years ago.

Update: KEv reminds us of the most excellent song: “Idi Amin – Amazin’ Man” — check it out.