Streatham born director Amma Asante continues her historical investigation of racial attitudes in this remarkable true story about King Seretse Khama’s (David Oyelowo) marriage to white, English born Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). The couple meet at a dance in London, where Seretse is studying to become a lawyer before he becomes King of Bechuanaland (later Botswana) and instantly fall in love. The political and personal sensitivities of this controversial pairing, and opposition to it, are illustrated with care, against the fabulous backdrop of the Botswanan landscape. “Issues of race are handled delicately for a drama that is more commonly painted in broad strokes. The complexities of what a white queen would mean to the people of Bechuanaland are given equal, if not more, screen time than the anti-black bigotry coming from the Brits.” Ben Nicholson, CineVue
Dir: Amma Asante 111mins UK/USA/CzR 2016
Tonight’s screening will be introduced by longstanding ABCD member Caroline Harben, whose upbringing in Zimbabwe has afforded her valuable insights into the story of the film.
This romantic biopic stars David Oyelowo (Selma, 2014; Jack Reacher, 2012; The Butler, 2013) as Seretse Khama, heir to the tribal kingdom of the (then) British protectorate of Bechuanaland, who, when in London in 1947, falls in love with English office worker Ruth Williams, who is played by Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, 2014; Pride & Prejudice, 2005; Die Another Day, 2002). However, in the political climate of the time, this causes considerable turmoil for both the British and Bechuanaland governments.
Directed by Amma Asante (Belle, 2013; A Way of Life, 2004; Where Hands Touch, 2017), and based on Susan Williams’ book Colour Bar, the film was shot in Botswana and in London. Locations included the actual house where Ruth & Seretse lived in real life and the Old Royal Naval College – now the University of Greenwich. The current king of Botswana, who is, in fact, Seretse Khama’s eldest son, turned up on set one day to see Pike and Oyelowo playing his parents. He was apparently very moved by their portrayals, which had a profound effect on Oyelowo himself.
“Bolstered by real events and true emotion, A United Kingdom opts for genuine, hard-won feeling, and the film studiously backs off from cheesy moments or over-the-top revelations” Kate Erbland, Indiewire
Seretse Khama – David Oyelowo
Ruth Williams – Rosamund Pike
Rufus Lancaster – Tom Felton
Sir Alistair Canning – Jack Davenport
Muriel Williams – Laura Carmichael
Naledi Khama – Terry Pheto
Lady Lilly Canning – Jessica Oyelowo
Director – Amma Asante
Screenplay – Guy Hibbert
Producers – Brunson Green, Peter Heslop et al.
Original Music – Patrick Doyle
Cinematography – Sam McCurdy
- Great film, most enjoyable, lovely story
- Very moving and beautifully made
- What price love? Brilliant film, brilliantly acted. I feel ashamed to be British
- Powerful – and enlightening about the history of that time
- My enjoyment of this compassionate film was much enhanced by Caroline’s thoughtful introduction
- An inspiring and well scripted film
- Super film and a great history lesson. Sound was f*****g good!
- Terrific film but why is Blighty always shown as raining?
- Great story, well acted but slightly over-romantic in places
- British duplicity and the horrors of colonialism. Slightly overblown dramatically
- Had choppy editing and an orchestral score that wouldn’t shut up in some of the quieter scenes. However, Caroline’s introduction gave us a political and historical context that made it worth sitting through
- The answer seems to be a glass of sherry!