With James McAvoy currently bending bullets around the brains of America’s moviegoers, I thought it might be appropriate to revisit one of his breakout performances. No, I’m not talking about the pedo-erotic majesty of his Leto II in Children of Dune. I’m talking about his epic tour de force as the magic white guy in The Last King of Scotland. Since I’m an amateur scientist (visit my website if you don’t believe me), I’ve taken a quasi-scientific perspective on the film. Here you are:
No, the title card isn’t lying. The Last King of Scotland is, in fact, inspired by actual people and events. Uganda is an actual country on an actual continent actually called Africa (or, if you wear a pith helmet and sleep under a mosquito net, The Dark Continent). Yes, Idi Amin was actually a brutal, childish dictator, and yes, Gillian Anderson is actually hot. In the first twenty minutes of The Last King of Scotland, you will see her baked to a golden tan—radiating pure sex from the tresses of her sun-bleached locks. No, there are no Hollywood makeup tricks here. This is, after all, a FilmFour co-production.
Yes, there is a map to Heaven coded in the constellations of Gillian Anderson’s freckles. This is a scientific fact.
But the rest of the movie? Not so reality based. Nicholas Garrigan, the headstrong, bright-eyed Scottish doctor played by The Chronicles of Narnia’s James McAvoy, never existed. He was created as an avatar through which the audience may experience Amin’s brutal rule. Also, he’s white, which makes him instantly relatable. Name one story told about the plight of Africa told from the P.O.V. of an honest-to-God African, and I’ll name forty-seven starring a white dude. A sign of Hollywood’s institutionalized, nearly subconscious racial bias? Or proof of concept? I’m no sociologist, so I’ll leave that one up to you. I’m only interested in the facts of this film, and here they are:
1. When Garrigan decides a life of upper-class chortling and deep-fried livestock stomachs isn’t for him, he spins a globe and vows to go wherever his finger lands. In what is meant to be a joke but is actually a hateful and borderline treasonous assault on a fellow British commonwealth, Garrigan laughs off the prospect of moving to his finger’s first target, Canada. Instead, he spins the globe again and lands upon Uganda. Statistically, this is highly improbable. Garrigan’s finger would have more likely landed in the middle of the Pacific, or at least near some remote island floating around in the ocean. Perhaps this would have altered the political point of the film, but the opportunity for a bikini-clad Gillian Anderson soaked in coconut butter would be a welcome trade-off.
2. McAvoy’s first scenes with Forest Whitaker offer a bittersweet glimpse of the J.J. Abram’s Star Trek that might have been. McAvoy was originally rumored to be a frontrunner for the role of Scotty, due to his possessing a Scottish accent and those ruby red lips all the ladies love. And (De)Forest Whitaker was once rumored for the role of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. Also in this stage of development, Philip Seymour Hoffman was slated to play all the remaining roles in a kind of Peter Sellers/Hayley Mills twist of stunt casting. While Star Trek has gone in a different direction, a nearly identical cast is currently in negotiations for the Space: 1999 movie, which has been retitled Space: Release Date TBA.
3. While a quick thrust to the abdomen with a baseball bat may dislodge the gassy obstructions from Idi Amin’s bowels, there’s no way any trained medical doctor would stand behind him during the eruption. Aside from the putrid stink of digested human flesh, Garrigan’s lower body would have boiled with the same kind of third degree burns the Rocketeer should have suffered during an average bout of Rocketeering. I would explain the chemical processes involved in turning a handful of aspirin and a liter of beer into a deadly gas bomb, but I remind you I have no actual credentials.
4. Simon McBurny and Roman Polanksi are the SAME MAN!
5. It’s an old cliché, but it’s true. If you’re going to fuck one of the boss’s wives, always pull out and come on her tits. It’s fun, it’s safe, it’s the rule. Maybe if Garrigan had had as firm a grasp of science as I do, he would have known where abortion-bound babies come from.
6. It is scientifically impossible for a film director worth his salt to pay Gillian Anderson to appear in his movie, ignore her through most of the film, and have her reappear through the back window of a rusty bus just before the end. You think you saw it happen in this film, but you’d be mistaken. Gillian Anderson never appeared in this film at all. She was simply projected onto the back of your eyelids every time you blinked.
7. Visiting a kidnapped loved one in Idi Amin’s mutilation chamber was the 1970’s Ugandan equivalent of visiting 2girls1cup.com.
8. It may seem unlikely, but you really can hang a guy by his booby skin alone. That stuff is tough.
The Last King of Scotland’s scientific accuracy:
Are Those Her Arms Sewed to Her Leg Holes? out of 10