Tag Archives: David Oyelowo

A United Kingdom

I haven’t done a film review for a while, mainly because I haven’t been to the cinema for a while. When Grace was ill we more or less stopped going because it took too much out of her. Until recently I think that the last film I saw on the big screen was “Paddington”.

I have decided that I should take myself along on a more regular basis. I like film and as far as I am concerned the best place to see a film is at the cinema. Two weeks ago I went to see “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” which was an entertaining two and a bit hours, with effective CGI and some pretty decent acting from Eddie Redmayne and Co. Last week on the recommendation of a friend I went to see “Arrival” in which Amy Adams gives a beautifully restrained performance as a linguist asked to communicate with aliens who have landed on earth.

This week I went  to see “A United Kingdom”.

It is based on a true story, set in Botswana (at the time called Bechuanaland) and London in the period after World War II. It tells the story of Prince Seretse Khama sent to the United Kingdon to study law before taking up his duties as king, who fell in love with and married a white British woman Ruth Williams.

The film stars David Oyelowo as Seretse and Rosamund Pike as Ruth.

The heart of the film is a love story. A love story set against a backdrop of racism, political maneuvering and rejection from all sides. The film exposes the duplicity and racism prevalent in the British establishment at the time. Nominally driven by a desire to appease South Africa, the British government did everything they could to prevent their marriage.

On returning to Botswana, the couple find themselves opposed not only by the colonial bureaucracy,  Jack Davenport playing Sir Alistair Canning a Colonial Office Mandarin and Tom Felton, drawing a bit on Draco Malfoy, as his underling are suitably repellant. They also find themselves opposed by Seretse’s uncle, who has been acting as regent since Seretse’s fathers death.

David Oyelowo is the main character and delivers a powerful performance as Seretse, including one amazing set piece speech before an assembly of tribal elders staking his claim to lead his people. Rosamund Pike, while having less to say, gives an equally compelling performance as Ruth, not quite sure how she fits into anything, but wanting to support the man she loves and find how she can be part of the society that he belongs to.

It is an excellent film on all levels. It succeeds in telling what Julius Nyerere described as “one of the great love stories of the world”. It also succeeds in telling the story of one of the British Government’s less than glorious episodes.

I thoroughly recommend the film, if you want to see it on the big screen you will probably need to be quick, otherwise wait for it to come out on DVD.