Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Review: A United Kingdom

On Tuesday afternoon I went to see 'A United Kingdom' a British film, funded in part with National Lottery funding, produced by Pathe and BBC Films. A powerful true story, which is deserving of the highest praise, I just want to make that clear from the outset.

'A United Kingdom' tells the story of Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana, who 'caused' controversy and international tensions in the 1940's, when he married a white British woman, Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), an interracial marriage, which was still unfortunately met by prejudice and hate back in the 1940's.

David Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King Jr, in Selma (2014), plays Prince Khama in this film, and delivers yet another superb performance, which literally brings tears to the eyes at certain points of the film. Oyelowo delivers raw emotion and captures the feelings of the time, when black people were oppressed and 'ruled over' in some cases by the British. His performance was nothing less than empowering to the core.

Though Khama's importance extends beyond the 40's this film focusses on his life in the 1940's and early 1950's, when he was exiled from Botswana, due in part to his Uncle, who had raised him since being a child not approving of his marriage to a white woman and the British, wanting their own interests served in Botswana and across Africa. Khama at the time was in line the line of royal succession to become King, which would mean Williams would be Queen of Bechuanaland in modern-day Botswana.

The film shows Khama and Williams' marriage and the struggles they face simply trying to be a couple, along with the diplomatic issues which arise as a result.

The film also has a political angle and focuses on how Khama's exile became a political football during the General Election of October 1951, which saw Winston Churchill lead the Conservatives to victory, taking power from the then Labour government of Clement Attlee. Churchill had promised Khama's 5 year exile from the country would be lifted, which undoubtably increased his support from the public, but when in power extended it to life long exile, going back on his election promise - sound familiar?

Though this is all in the history books, I was not aware of this story prior to viewing the film, which I couldn't believe due to its significance.

To me 'A United Kingdom' is absolute essential viewing and one of the best films I've seen this year.

It's out now in the UK, but if you're in the United States I'm afraid you'll have to wait until February 2017, when it is due for release over there. For more information on release dates depending on your country visit IMDB - Here

Right now 'A United Kingdom' has an 88% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and The Guardian called it "a beautifully shot, crowd pleasing gem", adding that the film "is a true-life tale of unity in the face of cultural apartheid and political expediency which remains as relevant as ever in these divided times".

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