Tuesday, July 04, 2017

A United Kingdom: The Power to Move You as a Human Being

Movie Review: A United Kingdom (2016)
Version: Library borrow

Occasionally there are stories that simply have the power to move you as a human being. A United Kingdom is one of those stories, told in film.

Seretse Khama is prince of Bechuanaland (Africa), studying in Britain before ascending to the throne in his native land. His country is under the temporary rule of his uncle, who assumed power at the death of Seretse's father. The uncle calls Seretse home to take his rightful place, but in the meantime, Seretse has met Ruth Williams, a common White British clerk, and fallen in love. They decide to marry, which sets off a firestorm of protests the couple are not prepared for, both in Britain and Bechuanaland. The story follows the couple's deep love and devotion, personally, and to the people of Bechunanaland, which will because of their loyalty become a free and democratic Botswana.

There is a huge contrast between the complex civilized yet manipulative society of late 1940's Britain and the simple yet honorable society of Bechunanaland. The characters of each are brought to life by David Oyelowo as Prince Seretse Khama, who while he may be naive is honest and loyal; Rosamund Pike as Ruth Williams, who while she may be overly trusting is not easily manipulated; Jack Davenport as Sir Alistair Canning, who while he may be cunning is not so clever; and Ton Felton as Rufus Lancaster, who while he may be in a position of colonial power ends up a sniveling coward. All are quality actors playing their parts exquisitely to tell this tale of bigotry and power overplayed and love and loyalty triumphantly celebrated.

The settings also provide a stark contrast between the two continents, Europe vastly mechanical and domesticated, Africa underdeveloped and ripe to be free of colonization. This imperfect couple was the perfect catalyst to make change happen and do it through a love two nations could not quell.

If you are offended by bi-racial marriage, don't watch this film. But if you are uplifted by the triumph of the spirit and right over wrong, right over might, by all means watch A United Kingdom. You will be moved by it.

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