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General Idi Amin Dada (1974)
"Général Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Documentary, Biography, War  |  30 August 1976 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 1,167 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 34 critic

A documentary on the military dictator of Africa's Uganda.

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Cast

Cast overview:
Idi Amin ...
Himself
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Storyline

Uganda's dictator, General Idi Amin Dada, accepts a foreign crew's request to interview and film him. He talks to the camera about his outreach to Arab nations, his goal of eradicating Israel, his views on economic policy, and his views of Nixon, Kissinger, and other world leaders. We also see him dressing down his ministers at a cabinet meeting (two weeks after this meeting, the foreign minister, whom Amin criticizes here, is murdered), supervising a war-game simulation of an invasion of Israel, visiting a village, and addressing a conclave of Ugandan physicians. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

30 August 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

General Idi Amin Dada  »

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1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Idi Amin: I come from a very poor family. I wanted to tell you this.
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Connections

Edited into The Last King of Scotland (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Unique portrait of a dictator
23 July 2008 | by (Boulder, CO) – See all my reviews

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.


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