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General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait (1974)

Général Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait (original title)
Not Rated | | Documentary | 30 August 1976 (USA)
A documentary on the military dictator of Africa's Uganda.


Barbet Schroeder




Cast overview:
Idi Amin ... Self (as Idi Amin Dada)


Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait is an extended character study of its subject. It follows Amin closely in a series of formal and informal settings, combined with several short interviews in which Amin expounds his unconventional theories of politics, economics, and international relations. Amin is seen supervising the Ugandan paratrooper school, boating through a wildlife park, playing the accordion in a jazz band at a formal dinner, and staging a mock assault on a small hill representing the Golan Heights. He discusses his plans for an attack on Israel, and his letter to Kurt Waldheim, then Secretary General of the United Nations sent in response to the 1972 Munich massacre, which commended Hitler, is touched upon. On a TV program, it is announced Amin is in possession of a 'manual' which details Israel's plans: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Most Controversial Film of the Year About the Most Controversial Man in Many Years! See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #153. See more »


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


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

User Reviews

The personification of ultimate evil
18 January 2004 | by Michael KenmoreSee all my reviews

I saw the film on rental DVD which is out of print and very difficult to get ahold of if no out of print VHS copy is available. This is a compelling and fascinating documentary on the former and ousted Uganda dictator Idi Amin Dada who thought it would be ideal as a positive public relations tool to use a documentary film to voice his views. It proved the opposite as you watch the film that maintains truth and objectivity while letting Idi expound his opinions to inform the viewers of his views and justify his decisions as the despotic ruler of Uganda between 1971 and 1979.

It's an amazingly candid documentary about a candid dictator who at first seems like a nice, jollying person to hang out in the beginning of the film but turns out to be a perverted-beyond-humanity, murderous, blood-thirsty schizophrenic psychopath as an illiterate military commander-turned-dictator thirsting and gnawing on bestial cruelty and bloodshed as a stronghold on ultimate power that is a toxin of the mind, heart and soul. The documentary barely shows any atrocity except at the beginning, but the way Idi engages the documentary crew with his inane, egotistical, delusional and bizarre ramblings on-camera should ice-chill the spine of every conscientious viewer who paid attention to watch this historically important film since Idi Amin Dada recently died from multiple organ failure in a Saudi Arabia hospital in August 2003.

For a brief but detailed account of Idi Amin Dada's sheer scope of violence and brutality under the Dada regime, I recommend "The Most Evil Men and Women in History" by Miranda Twiss available only at Barnes & Nobles. It astounds me that one of the worst and most barbaric dictators of the 20th century lived to be an old man without prosecution for crimes against humanity.

Without Barbet Schroeder's brutally honest documentary, we would not be aware of what was inside the warped mind of Idi Amin to justify the horror bestowed upon the victims in the wrong place at the wrong time from all directions in Uganda under his coup d'etat rule.

Truly, we have the real Hannibal Lecter on film and that is General Amin. A rare film that's so bone-chilling it's scary just listening to Amin's speeches with his strange, barely contorted facial expression - and it's in real-life. The embodiment of evil personified by Amin on film.

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Official Sites:

Criterion Collection


France | Switzerland


English | Swahili | French

Release Date:

30 August 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait See more »

Filming Locations:

Uganda See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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