Friday, September 8, 2017

A United Kingdom {movie review}

Have you signed up for the War of Loyalties street team yet? Applications close the evening of September 9th! Don't miss the chance for a private street-team view of the War of Loyalties publication process! Check out the details here: 
http://ladybibliophile.blogspot.com/2017/09/announcing-mcconkey-press-street.html

my photo of the movie cover

After watching Rosamund Pike in Wives and Daughters and the 2007 Pride and Prejudice, I think I wanted to watch A United Kingdom just because she was in it. Then as I researched more about the movie to see if it would be worth watching, the story itself grabbed me.

After working hard on War of Loyalties, (and using the soundtrack for this movie again and again as I edited) I decided it was time to pick it up from the library and see if it was any good. So this Sunday afternoon I popped it in the laptop and gave it a try.

The Story
A United Kingdom explores a true-to-life story about a black king of Bechuanaland marrying a white English girl, and the persecution they both endured for their interracial marriage in the 1960s. (I say interracial, wishing there was a better term. I don't believe in different human races.) As Seretse and Ruth try to establish a home in Africa, the prejudice of their families and the opposition of the British government make a happily-ever-after seem next to impossible.

My Thoughts 

  • The opening scenes of Ruth and Seretse's early relationship didn't grab me. They meet in secret, going to jazz dances and taking long moonlit walks together. While Rosamund Pike makes for a mature actress in what doesn't seem like a mature situation, I wouldn't want to handle a relationship as a temporary fling, and jazz dance halls didn't seem like good places to hang out. (Though the line when her little sister said, "He says you could bring me if you want to," and Rosamund says "I don't" is a hilarious zinger.)
  • Rosamund Pike is a pleasure to watch. I appreciate watching some of her interviews because she speaks in a cultured, thoughtful way. She brings maturity to movies (the only sister in the 2007 Pride and Prejudice I truly liked *ducks tomatoes*) and her character has a strength for the challenges of life that is cast in iron without being feministic. She plays a wonderful helpmeet and wife who is able to hold fast in the midst of prejudice and separation from her husband. 
  • After Ruth and Seretse's marriage, when they arrive in Africa, I really pick up with the movie and the emotions it portrays. This marriage was hard for everyone. It was hard for Ruth and Seretse, who didn't deserve persecution simply because of the color of their skin. It was hard for Seretse's uncle, who had raised his nephew to be a king of his people and expected him to take a native wife. And I can't imagine what it was like for Ruth's parents, who saw their daughter marry a man not culturally acceptable and receive persecution from the British government. I'm sure they would have wanted something more respectable and safe for their daughter. While there are villains in this film, there are also real people with real emotions and concerns on all sides of the issue, and I think that brings a more realistic, fully-fleshed view to history than taking only one side on the question. 
  • As well as the main story of the marriage, there's also a subplot as the British government looks for diamonds in Bechuanaland without the knowledge of the people, and Seretse tries to secure the mineral rights for his nation. You see that there's a lot more going on under the surface than an interracial marriage. The British people are fighting for control of Bechuanaland in one of their less shining moments. 
  • While A United Kingdom is a secular film, it offers a good example of marriage--a couple committing to stay true to each other whether together or separated, in hard times and in beautiful ones. 

Not only is this educative about a real-life situation, but A United Kingdom also offers a fun and moving 2-hour British drama for when you're looking for a quality British movie to relax with (as I often am.) With a few brief exceptions of scenes I'd skip, I highly recommend it.

In fact, this article about the real story and the making of the movie might give you a fun Friday read as well: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/2016/11/04/the-true-story-of-the-first-president-of-botswana-and-the-englis/

Parent Guide:
Language: Scattered handful of 6+ instances. Some racial epithets.
Sex: Skippable scene of the wedding night after Ruth and Seretse exchange rings at their wedding. Flirtatious scene of the two of them together in their hotel room after they arrive in Africa. Ruth and Seretse are sitting together on their porch, and Seretse makes a comment about not marrying her because she's beautiful. Ruth says "Liar" and pulls up her skirt hem.
Violence: Brief fistfight in an alley.
Other: Smoking, references to various alcohols, Ruth and Seretse exchange kisses as a married couple.

4 comments:

  1. Wow, this sounds really good! I'll have to see if I can find it anywhere :) The story line sounds a little bit like The Butler, which I just watched.

    Rosamund Pike is basically the only sister I liked from the "newer" P & P too! So thank goodness I'm not alone in that ;) Jane, Caroline, and Mr. Bennett were the only characters I kind of liked, and certainly the only ones who could have been an improvement on the 1995 version in my opinion! :D

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    1. I agree 100%! :D Jane just has that inner charm in the new one that makes her look like she's from the era. I love her.

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  2. I've been eyeing this film ever since I saw the trailer . . . I think I might check it out. It looks like a great story.

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    1. It's a fantastic one. I think you would like it!

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