The Last King of Scotland and the Distinctive Look of Evil
The first time I saw a photo of Osama bin Laden after 9/11, I was taken aback and just stared with my mouth agape.
“I know, ” Sean replied to my silence, “He doesn’t look like the kind of man who would do this.”
“No, he doesn’t,” I said. He really didn’t. He looked peaceful. He looked grandfatherly. He looked like Gandhi. He looked very much like the way I picture Jesus.
Last week, Sean and I took advantage of Free Popcorn Night at the Lyric (aka Monday). We saw The Last King of Scotland. The film is about Uganda’s Idi Amin whose bloody reign killed an estimated 300,000. We both really enjoyed the movie and I continue to find it thought-provoking.
I believe the film excelled in depicting the initial appeal and charisma of Amin. You see him as jolly and happy, with such a big shining smile. You hear him with hearty laughs and watch him exchange jokes. You see his generosity. You see him as he empathizes with the residents of the smallest villages and as he inspires large crowds with his vision for Uganda.
Even as you start to get exposed to his darker sides and his paranoia, it’s just hard to look at him and think he is capable of such evil. How can a man with such good humour and who smiles so bright bring about so much death and destruction, so much hate and heartache?
So many people live their lives as if there is a magic formula to identifying evil. If Skin Color is X. If Religion is Y. If Sexual Preference is Z. If they smoke cigarettes. If, gawd forbid, they like heavy metal music. If they ride a skate board. If they wear veils in front of the faces, if they wear black trenchcoats, or even, if they wear a police uniform. But you can’t weigh the quality of a man’s heart by looking at his exterior. There is no distinctive look of evil. It can can be peaceful and harmless looking. It can be vivacious and smiling. Evil can look like just about anything.
I found “The Last King of Scotland” to serve as a good reminder of that.