A United Kingdom was beautifully, lovingly directed by Amma Asante. It’s based on a true story about an African prince and the Englishwoman he married. David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike star.
Guy Hibbert wrote the screenplay, based on a book by Susan Williams (Colour Bar: A United Kingdom). Set in the late 1940s and early 1950s, A United Kingdom is a story of love, hope, determination, racism, and English imperialism.
Seretse Khama was educated in London. He and Ruth Williams fell in love almost at first sight. They began a careful relationship. When it was time for Seretse to return to his home in what was then the English protectorate of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) and assume his duties as king, the two realized they couldn’t bear to be apart. They decided to marry.
Their marriage was a constant struggle against forces that didn’t want them to be together. Her parents. His uncle, the current leader in Bechuanaland. The English government, mostly represented in the film with oily arrogance by Sir Alistar Canning (Jack Davenport) and Rufus Lancaster (Tom Felton).
Ruth’s sister was played by Laura Carmichael. Seretse’s sister was played by Terry Pheto. The two sisters, thousands of miles apart, were important allies to Seretse and Ruth because they organized people behind the couple in support of their marriage and their dreams for the future of Bechuanaland.
Eventually, after many hardships and sacrifices, their marriage was accepted by family and country. There were political struggles, mineral rights issues (diamonds to be precise), personal negotiations among family members, and various struggles and obstacles for the lovers and their chosen country to overcome.
A United Kingdom was a suspense-filled, well told story. It was well-acted and photographed gorgeously. Whether in swirling English fog or glowing African sun, the images were powerful. It is one of the finest films of the past year. It deserved more nominations and recognition that it received. I absolutely recommend it.
There a bit of background information and the trailer here.
If you’ve seen it, I’d love to hear your thoughts about A United Kingdom.