A United Kingdom – a shared opinion

Photo courtesy of: BBC Films
by Alessandro Di Fraio, Andrea Genivi, Yaiza Parajon Rodriguez,

Based on a true story, A united Kingdom is a tale of two lovers, Seretse Khama, a young prince of Botswana and Ruth Williams, a girl from a reputable British family.

Despite having a powerful theme and a history of mistreatment or violence in the background, the film ends up showing a naive, distorted reality in which love could beat even the most powerful opponent, facing prejudice and fears.

Prince Khama, played by (David Oyelowo), lacks character and personality, the actor himself moves on stage like a puppet in a kids’ show, pretending to be human. Khama is a prince and yet still a boy, and this fact doesn’t seem to bother him in the slightest. Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike)who doesn’t have any remorse or regret about leaving her family in Britain, dedicates her life to a man who she barely knows.

Prince Seretse Khama caused an international conflict due to his marriage to a white woman, Ruth Williams in 1948. Racism was deeply rooted in that time. This paragraph could be read in any storyline about A United Kingdom, but will this political tension be appreciated after watching the film, or will the spectators think it was another romantic drama film?

Photo: bbc.co.uk
Photo: bbc.co.uk

Amma Asante, as the director of the film, has focused excessive attention on the ‘sweeter side’ of the story, excluding the huge importance of the historical context, since Apartheid happened during that decade. A United Kingdom only depicts one violent racist scene. Seretse and Ruth are walking around London, when suddenly three white men assault them. The racist abuse suffered by them, could have been represented in a rougher way, showing what it really meant for them being a “black and white couple” in that time

Furthermore, when they arrive to Botswana, clearly, they have to face up arduous situations in the real story, since one of the Apartheid’s consequences was the prohibition of a marriage between black and white people.

Everything seems to be destroying this marriage, especially when Khama is forced to stay in Britain for 5 years and, in the meantime in Botswana, Ruth finds that she is pregnant. Finally, Khama, thanks to the support of Botswana people, and the discovery of diamonds in his country, comes back to the motherland and becomes the new king.

The movie brings on the scene two different countries, represented too kindly towards the main characters. The British Empire is seen as the enemy of this eternal love but still capable of redeeming itself, a sappy and messy writing that doesn’t allow the movie to shine for its real qualities: a nice, yet forgettable and not perfect by any means, cinematography, competent photography and well thought color palette.

The film is expected to take risks, the whole plot turns around it, this means opting for a more raw and less vibrant storytelling and a quite rude direction.

Asante had good intentions but it wasn’t what the film needed.

This story shows how the love triumphs over the obstacles and the title of the film represents metaphorically this union. It seems that the movie lacks energy as well as adequate cruelty.

Conversely, the picture brings us a pinch of hope while reminding us of this inspiring true story, which exemplifies the substantial love achievements, reviving our longing for an equal world.

A United Kingdom is a lost opportunity but an inoffensive one.

A United Kingdom (2016)
A United Kingdom poster Rating: 6.3/10 (239 votes)
Director: Amma Asante
Writer: Guy Hibbert (screenplay)
Stars: Rosamund Pike, Tom Felton, Laura Carmichael, David Oyelowo
Runtime: 111 min
Rated: N/A
Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance
Released: 17 Feb 2017
Plot: Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana causes an international stir when he marries a white woman from London in the late 1940s.
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