February 18, 2007
At its best, it informs us somewhat of the feel (and often the facts) of a historical period as a background theme, while the fictional heroes act out a story line in the foreground – usually to entertain, or at least to provide a morality play.
At its worst, historical fiction trots out historical figures and facts as foreground characters, and skews their reality (for better or worse) in order for them to become the story.
The Last King of Scotland, a movie “loosely based” on a book of the same name that was itself “loosely based” on the facts of Idi Amin’s regime in 1970’s Uganda, falls somewhere in between these two poles.
The film offers up James MacAvoy as a fictional “Dr. Nicholas Garrigan”, a young, naively recent medical school graduate, off to Uganda to find adventure and escape his father’s medical practice as the anti-hero lens through which we view Amin’s Uganda.