In the late 1940s Prince Seretse Khama, the man who was destined to take the seat of power in Botswana, married a white English woman, and as a result caused a major international political nightmare. Because of what he did? No. Because of how others chose to view his actions. With apartheid in full swing just over the border, an interracial marriage of power was a big no-no. South Africa put the screws to the British and so they lodged an inquiry into Seretse's fitness for the chieftainship. When the results were not in the Brit's favour, they had them suppressed and in turn exiled Seretse and his wife from 1951 to 1956.
Through today's eyes, the latest film by 'Belle' director Amma Asante, 'A United Kingdom' is seen as an unspeakable cruelty. However one can't help but notice that this in not the only interracial relationship biopic this year. Race has certainly dominated our news feeds this year, and for the last few as well. As has a person's right to marry whomever they please. The roadblock may not be racially motivated, but if we can look upon these past events in disgust and embarrassment of an archaic and barbaric time gone by, then perhaps we can see the same in today's society and wish not to repeat those mistakes.
The stars of 'A United Kingdom' are names that seem to be everywhere these days - and with good reason. David Oyelowo ('Selma') and Rosamund Pike ('Gone Girl') both have a quiet dominance and assertiveness, yet still allow themselves to display an innate vulnerability that makes them perfect to portray these very real people. An added layer to David's performance is that his actress wife Jessica Oyelowo, who also happens to be white, has a small role in the film. The emotional depth of the story bubbles along beneath the romantic melodrama, hoping that it speaks for itself without much of a push or shove down the throat.
There aren't any bells and whistles here to play with. The story is too real and important and definitely deserves to be told.
There aren't any bells and whistles here to play with. The story is too real and important and definitely deserves to be told. Asante has cast very strong actors with Tom Felton ('Harry Potter') and Jack Davenport ('Pirates of the Caribbean') in the mix as well. The script is quite stripped-back and straight to the point to allow more room for the political and cultural complexities.
'A United Kingdom' is ultimately uplifting and its melodrama is punctuated with a saccharine ending that may not be everyone's cup of tea - but regardless, the power and importance of the story is still there and undeniable.