AMIN: THE RISE AND FALL
UK, 1982, 101 minutes, Colour.
Joseph Lolita, Geoffrey Keen.
Directed by Shared Patel.
Amen: the Rise and Fall is a feature film, docudrama. It is very much like a journalistic overview of the career of the Ugandan dictator. In many ways, this is a pity, because a great deal of research went into the making of the film. Writer Wade Huia, born in Georgia, studied journalism in Guiana and worked in Nairobi as a journalist. The director Shared Patel was born in India but has lived and worked in Kenya as a documentary and commercial filmmaker.
Joseph Lolita is very effective as the look-alike for Amin. Professional actors Geoffrey Keene, Leonard Trolley and Andre Maranne join the cast as did British journalist Dennis Hills who portrayed himself and his experiences of imprisonment under Amin. While there is an atmosphere of authenticity about the film, its rapid pace and quick portraying of characters and situations does not make for entirely satisfying cinema.
1. Audience interest in Idi Amin? Familiarity with his story? The re-creation of his Ugandan regime? An unfavourable interpretation of him as a person and of his regime?
2. The film resembling photojournalism: brevity, a suggestion for characters and episodes? Audience reaction to characters and episodes? How much understanding in interpretation did the film offer?
3. The Kenyan production, location photography? The documentary opening with the explanation of Amin as a person, his career as a pro-British soldier, his rise in the military ranks, his growing ruthlessness? The detailed re-creation of events? The sketch of seven years of his rule? His international reputation and impact? The contribution of Dennis Hill's re-enacting his own experiences? The background musical score?
4. The introduction and explanation, Africa, Uganda, transitions to independence in the '60s and '70s, the role of the military? Amin with his tribal background, heritage of superstition, military training, attitude to Britain? His aims, personality? The effect of the coup and the film showing the people's joyous reaction to his takeover?
5. The portrait of Amin: background, cultures, experience, power? The coup and his drive, his exultant dance, his speech, international attitudes, the presence of the British and their having to support him, the appointment of the judge and pressure on him? His employing of the doctor? The employment of death squads, their raids in the street, torture? International response? His need for international support - his visit to England, television coverage? His wanting arms deals? His personal life style and wealth (in comparison with the poverty and starvation of the Ugandans)? His wives, children? The young wife and his seduction and marriage? The little boy and his military training, the presentation of the military medal? The brutal and sensual side of Amin, the glamorous women, both black and white, the seducing of the girl and her committing suicide? His reliance on Bob Astles? His ridding himself of rivals? His love of public parades? Taking over the bank, dismissing the manager, employing the underling and wanting money printed? The ousting of the Asians? The cover-ups of killings? His rhetoric? The support of the British and the French and their later criticism? The Americans and their suspicions? The Russians leaving and his personal plea for them to stay? The antagonism to wards the Israelis? The experience of Entebbe and the glimpse of the raid, his reaction? His growing excesses, his henchmen and their arrests, brutality? The prisoners and the executions? The people's reaction? The setting up of a raid from Tanzania? Provoking war? His being routed? The megalomaniac and his escape? Selfish, affluent style? The final figures on his pretensions, killing and impoverishing his people?
6. The picture of Uganda 1971-1978? The previous regime, the suspicions of Leftist Obote? The importance of the coup? Internal reaction? Hopes? The fascist and militarist regime with the terror squads, arrests, censoring? Growing poverty? The international opinion about Uganda?
7. The sinister presence of Bob Astles? His being continually present, cruelty, his strategies for Amin? The revenge on him at the end?
8. The portrait of Amin's wives, deaths, children? The hangers-on, social occasions, parties, glamour? Amin and his sexual prowess? Luxury? The response of the press?
9. The thread of plot running through the film focusing on the doctor? The initial operation during the coup, the disappearance of his brother. the head in the refrigerator? Concern? The doctor doing his best for Amin and his family? His brother's death and the tending of the escaped prisoner? His final revulsion?
10. The scenes of the prisoners, torture, death, death squads. the digging of the graves, escapes?
11. The judge and the journalist and the telephone calls by Amin to get rid of the judge? International opinion? Dennis Hills and his articles, arrest, the trials? The American journalists interviewing the Asians and their rigged deaths? The Canadians supporting the Asians and taking them? The background of Catholics in Uganda. the prayers and ceremonies. the discussions with the Archbishop, the interview with the Archbishop and Amin losing his temper, killing him. the setting up of the accident?
12. The dramatisation of the Entebbe raid? The incident with Mrs. Bloch and her being taken to hospital, her death?
13. The effect of the photo-journalistic quick collage of a person and his career? The conclusions that the audience would have drawn by the end of the film?