'A United Kingdom' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD]
(Rosamund Pike, David Oyelowo, Jack Davenport, Tom Felton, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD / PG-13 / 2017 / 20th Century Fox)
Overview: The story of King Seretse Khama of Botswana and how his loving but controversial marriage to a British white woman, Ruth Williams, put his kingdom into political and diplomatic turmoil.
Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, and in the hands of a lesser director than the hugely talented Amma Asante, 'A United Kingdom' might have been nothing more than another inter-racial romance cloaked in a veil of sickly sentimentality. But, like 'Belle' before it, this remarkable film works both as a genuinely moving love story, but more significantly, as a powerful political tract that draws attention to a very shameful period in recent British history; with neither the Tory nor Labour governments coming out of it smelling of roses.
It is the story of Seretse Khama, heir to the throne of Bechuanaland, now Botswana, who whilst a student in London, fell in love with and married Ruth Williams; English and, more crucially, white. Bringing her back to his homeland as his Queen, much to the chagrin and disapproval of both the British and South African governments and his own people, this is when the tale really begins to be told. However, like all good love stories, if not quite all fairy tales, Ruth's tenacity soon wins over the people of Bechuanaland while the jaundiced, racist government of the UK proves a somewhat greater obstacle.
The events portrayed in the film actually took place in real life, but until now haven't been much discussed on a wider platform. Even today, inter-racial love stories can be unpopular and sadly racism remains a major issue that has yet to be eradicated. It is testament to both Seretse and to Ruth that their actions were finally instrumental in bringing democracy to Botswana with Seretse renouncing his kingship and becoming the first democratically elected president of his country.
In these roles both David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike are superb and there is sterling work from an outstanding supporting cast. If the feelgood factor seems at times a tad on the heavy side in Guy Hibbert's screenplay it is still heartening to see a movie about love and about race that is largely unsentimental and politically astute. It is also gorgeously shot by Sam McCurdy and is a credit to all involved. I simply cannot recommend this film any more than by adding that seeing it should change the way you see life through certain rose-colored glasses that you might have been previously wearing. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Making Of Featurette
Filming in Botswana
The Legacy of Seretse and Ruth
London Film Festival Opening Night Gala Premiere