General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait

1974 [FRENCH]


Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 82%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 78%
IMDb Rating 7.4 10 1699


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
August 20, 2019 at 09:58 PM


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719.7 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 32 min
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1.34 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 32 min
P/S 0 / 12

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by tomgillespie2002 8 / 10

Fascinating insight into the mind of Idi Amin

Watching Forest Whitaker's performance as Ugandan military dictator Idi Amin in 2006's slightly disappointing The Last King Of Scotland, and then watching this, Barbet Schroeder's fantastic 1974 documentary about the same man, you have to applaud Whitaker's Oscar winning depiction. He not only grasped the man's sense of humour and desire for approval, but his terrifying ferocity which led to Amin being one of the most loathed and feared rulers in recent history. Yet if ever an Oscar was truly deserved, the Academy should have handed Idi Amin himself the award for Best Actor in 1974. The term 'autoportrait' (self-portrait) is cleverly used in the title, as that is exactly what it is. This might seem like a fly-on-the-wall depiction of a man narrating through his everyday duties, yet the film is very much controlled as much as Kevin Macdonald's fictional film was. Only it's not the director that is calling the shots in this film.

The film is one-half cinema verite and one half an Amin vanity project, and plaudits to Schroeder to let it happen, as it reveals much more about Amin as it would if he had no participation at all, other than in front of the camera. In one scene, Amin arrives by helicopter at a small town and is greeted by a horde of screaming townsfolk, waving flags and clapping in anticipation. However, we are told, the scene has been completely set up for the documentary by Amin. Without repeatedly informing us of the influence he had on the making of the film, and on Schroeder himself, we are allowed to sit back and watch this monster bend and manipulate the truth for his own benefit. He is seen in a meeting with his ministers laying out his ideals and his expectations for his country. In this scene, Amin plays the role of both serious and committed leader, and approachable joker. He warns one of his ministers that he will take action and replace him should he fail to inform him about an aspect of his work again, to which the minister stares down and nods in understanding. We are informed by the narrator that his body is found dead in the River Nile a couple of weeks later.

The film depicts both the political and social sides of Amin. As well as his claims to being the 'last king of Scotland' and his invitation to Queen Elizabeth to visit Africa and meet 'a real man', it also shows the increasingly uneasy relationship that Amin and Uganda had at the time with neighbouring country Tanzania and their President Julius Nyerere. Amin would have you believe otherwise, laughing off these claims and joking that the two have a friendly and informal relationship (the two countries would eventually go to war between 1978 and 1979, leading to the overthrowing of Amin's regime). We also see him with his children from many wives (he was a polygamist, marrying six women) and taking Schroeder and his crew on a boat trip down the River Nile, pointing out the wildlife and talking about Uganda being the most beautiful place on the planet.

It is a terrifying insight in how politicians and military rules can use the media as a propaganda tool, and what a lack of respect they have for their people. You get the feeling throughout the film that Schroeder would like to pose more trying questions to Amin, yet because of the likelihood that the film would be shut down should he be challenged, Schroeder is forced to indulge Amin's desires. In a satisfying climax, which sees Amin allowing himself to be questioned by a board of doctors in a bid to show his accessibility, the camera zooms in close as he sits speechless after being confronted with a difficult question, and the volume on his microphone is turned up to maximum to capture every quiver in his breathing, and the thumping of his ever increasing heartbeat.

The documentary was forced to be edited and released in two versions - one hour-long version in Uganda, and the full length version everywhere else. Amin sent spies to France to make extensive notes on the full film, which lead to the kidnapping of over a hundred French citizens residing in Uganda. According the Schroeder, he was forced to re-edit the film in order for the captives to be released. The film lay in this state until Amin's fall from power, to which the film was restored and re-released in it's entirety.

It could almost be viewed as a companion piece to Leni Reifenstahl's landmark propaganda documentary Triumph Of The Will, both of which show the length that military rulers are willing to go in order to manipulate their people. It is confusing as to why Schroeder would go on to make standard Hollywood pap such as Kiss Of Death and Murder By Number, as this is a fascinating insight into the mind of a fascinating man.

Reviewed by bandw 8 / 10

Unique portrait of a dictator

This documentary is unique in my experience, offering as it does in-depth interviews and real-time personal footage of a notorious dictator, with his full cooperation.

Idi Amin ruled Uganda from 1971-1979 during which time it is reputed that some 300,000 Ugandans were put to death. Given Amin's reputation I was expecting him to have the personality of a Stalin, but not so. In many ways he seemed to be a fun-loving, likable guy. For example, at a dance he would play an accordion-like instrument, dance and joke around. He seemed to have a genuine appreciation for wildlife and the countryside. But as the movie went on you began to feel that behind the bonhomie was a personality disorder. For one thing he was delusional - he had, or said he had, a hatred of the Jews and in one scene he was seen staging a mock invasion and capture of the Golan Heights. This was a pretty pathetic performance - a few dozen soldiers with a helicopter backup. The thing that makes the movie interesting is that you can never quite figure Amin out. Did he actually believe that he could take the Golan Heights, or were the maneuvers just a game?

He would do crazy things like establish a fund for England and offer food for the starving English. He made the comment that United Kingdom Prime Minister Edward Heath would not come to visit him because Heath would only visit weak leaders. Did Amin believe these things, or was he grandstanding? I think Amin's agreeing to participate in this endeavor indicates a certain innocence, or was it arrogance?

The filming of a cabinet meeting caused a little chill to go up my spine. Amin instructed his cabinet members to make decisions on their own saying that he wanted strong, independent men to occupy those posts. But then he contradicted himself saying that they could call him any time for advice - even at 2 AM. And, in a voice-over, the director pointed out that one of the ministers who had made a poor decision was mysteriously found dead in a river a couple of weeks later. This cabinet meeting offers perhaps the deepest insight into Amin's rule: contradictory, unfocused, emotional, threatening, and avuncular. Given the fact of Amin's participation and that many of the scenes were staged, the horrors perpetrated by his regime are not treated here, but those horrors are the biggest part of his legacy.

Giving absolute power to anybody is a bit problematic, but giving it to someone as quirky as Amin produced some pretty bizarre results.

Reviewed by bendunlap 8 / 10

A very relevant film: a now impossible window into the mind of a dictator.

This documentary film is extraordinary in its own right. However, it is the interviews with director Babet Schroder (found on the DVD release of the film), specifically his retelling of the events around the time of the premiere of the movie in Paris, that propel this film to the level of incredible.

Idi Amin's Autoportrait is most relevant today for its capacity to show an instance before more secretive, media-savvy dictators became the norm. Leaders today are of course still perfectly willing to say absurd things on film but, unlike that of Idi Amin's Autoportrait, today's spin is formidable. Key to this film's relevance is that one's imagination need not go far to consider what similarly candid documentaries of certain infamous dictators might look like if footage of them also escaped editing by political pressure. Following the premiere, this film was temporarily edited due to pressure from Idi Amin but thankfully was later restored to become an incisive portrait of the man. Such a portrait of any world leader would probably be quite difficult if not impossible today, making it a very relevant benchmark for those interested in how today's dictators interact (or don't) with media they don't fully control. Among other things, this film is especially of use for those interested in the extremes of state-society relations.

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