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A United Kingdom - Film Review

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by Helen Belli (subscribe)
I am now living in Kariong on the Central Coast
Published December 29th 2016
International uproar at young love
A United Kingdom

'Would she even look at you if you were not a King?'

This film is based on the true story written by Susan Williams in 2006. The first film based on this story was made in 1990 called 'A Marriage of Inconvenience', written by Michael Dutfield with perhaps a more accurate title. Both are based on a true story which today would not even be commented on.

On the surface, this is a romantic love story between the marriage of a black King and a white English girl. The story begins in 1947. It is about the outrage at a mixed marriage and an outdated colonial system imposed by sneering British officials who try to bully both parties not to marry.

Amma Asante's last film, 'Belle' told the extraordinary story, set in the eighteenth century, of the prejudice shown to the daughter of a slave which eventually results in the abolition of slavery. In 2004 her debut film, 'A Way of Life', won many awards for the actress/writer/director.

David Oyelowo stars as Prince Seretse Khama, a King in waiting of Bechuanaland [Botswana]. The actor has already made his mark as Martin Luther King in the 2014 film 'Selma'. His character develops from a carefree student enjoying his social life before he has to defy his family, apartheid and the British Empire.

A United Kingdom

Ruth Williams (played by Rosamunde Pike), is the working class girl who falls madly in love with Khama as they dance the small hours away to the music they both love, jazz. He finishes his law degree and is ready to return to his native land and wants to take Ruth as his wife and Queen to one of the poorest nations in the world, bordering South Africa where apartheid has just been introduced. Her coach is a rundown truck, her castle is a small modest cottage in the barren land, but she is determined to win over the powers that be in her new land. Neither are prepared for the outrage their union creates. Gentle by nature, she is determined to overcome all obstacles and develops into a fine diplomat while the whole time looking like a frightened doe.

Britain has been improvised by WW11, so finding and developing mineral wealth in their colonies is high on the agenda, as well as imposing outdated principles on their colonies.

Britain has a tradition of imposing strict protocols which have hindered even royal marriages. In 1936, Edward V111 abdicated because of religious, legal and political reasons. Princess Margaret was close to losing her title as H.R.H. because she wanted to marry a divorced man in 1947. She, like the King of Botswana, was threatened with 5 years banishment if she went ahead with the marriage.

'No man is free, who isn't master of himself' is King Khama's moto, which spurs him onto his final goal.

A United Kingdom

This is an amazing story and it may be difficult not to be emotionally involved and feel outraged during many scenes in this film. The twenty-first century is the time of tolerance and history is made by people who refuse to be bullied.

It is now showing at selected cinemas nationwide.

I viewed it at Cinema Paradiso.
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