How strange to dream of African armies and of being a doctor a few days before seeing The Last King of Scotland. I had the dream, strangely, after seeing V for Vendetta on DVD.
I’d seen this film discussed on a late-night, fast-talking arts review on Channel 4 so had some idea of its themes. It was a loud film, the African music, the dying cows screaming and the gunshots left me exhausted. One theme was colonialism (gone wrong and repulsed) with our young Scottish doctor Garrigan a cypher for the white man’s exploitation of Africa. Another, and the theme that gripped me most, was the discussion (is that the word?) of character and corruption. From the moment that our Doc coyly revealed to Amin that he had particular feelings for a married woman, Amin knew he had a man he would be able to master. Being corrupt, he recognised that spark of corruption in the young man. And Garrigan is also drawn to the charisma and corruption of Amin. The characters with integrity all seem to end up with bullets in their brains. Is the corruption and power attractive? Well, it can be, but somehow it isn’t portrayed like that. Both Amin and Garrigan make us very uneasy. Amin has a charisma that Garrigan certainly doesn’t.
We can’t guess what comes after the film ends. Has Garrigan finally learned his lesson? Will he really give powerful testimony about Amin’s regime once back in safe London as his doctor colleague pleads?
As the reviews have been saying Amin is played masterfully by Forest Whitaker (and I’ve just realised it was he that played the amazing Ghost Dog in Jim Jarmusch’s brilliant film – I feel like seeing this again just so I can appreciate all those resonances.)
I am in a hot african country in an office in an old white building. I look down from an upstairs door and sense there is trouble brewing. I lock the front door but hear soldiers in the corridor. I lock my inside metal door with two locks. I am quaking with fear and think about hiding in a large cupboard but conclude that they will always look there and would find me cowering. This wouldn’t be a dignified way to be found.
Then in the next dream I am a GP in a rather squalid practice somewhere in London. I have a camp bed in the practice and am awoken by a butler or similar person to tell me that there is a phone call for me. I go up some stairs. It is 4.30am and a journalist is on the phone asking me about some new machine installed in a local hospital. As he asks this strikes me as commedy and I say that I know nothing about it. I go back down to the surgery. There is smoke-stained flock wall paper, dim lighting and an antique desk, a grumpy receptionist too. And I have to start seeing patients.
I hate the news. I think I always have. For the most part it turns things into shit, into little snippets of entertainment.
how can I write a typically bloggish piece about the overwhelming attractions of the iPhone presented to us by Steve Jobs a couple of days ago when there is the ghastliness of Tony Blair’s evil on every tv news this evening? How can I luxuriate in consumerism in this context?