Movie Assassinations: Leaders & Dictators
Writer: Naseem Randhawa
As Sony Pictures confirms today that "The Interview" has been indefinitely halted from cinematic, DVD and video on demand release, it is apparent that the James Franco and Seth Rogen starrer have ruffled some serious feathers where the North Korean government is concerned. Picking dictator Kim Jong-Un as the film's subject of assassination have over the past few weeks resulted in Sony's servers being hacked, upcoming movies leaked, salaries revealed, confidential information released and even a threat of a terrorist attack.
But with all that is happening, the movie going masses are divided into two groups over the studio's decision, with one half arguing that the film should be accepted as a form of entertainment that supports the freedom of expression, and another half which counters that the movie is culturally insensitive and the depiction of an assassination plot of a current dictator, no matter how unfavoured by the masses he may be and no matter fictional or factual, is highly inappropriate to made into a subject of cinematic parody in the first place.
Franco and "The Interview's" Kim Jong-Un thought they could be best friends.
It is however common to find that over the years there have been a number of movies revolving around the assassination plot of beloved leaders or hated dictators. It is interesting to note though, that most of the subjects of assassinations in those films are either fictional or have been long deceased.
Ben Stiller's comedy "Zoolander" was banned in Malaysia when it was released in 2001. The film revolves around an airhead male model, Derek Zoolander who has been coerced to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia in order for corrupt fashion executives to retain cheap child labour in the country. Although the film portrayed flaws in its depiction of Malaysia and its multi-cultural people; only Chinese citizens, the non-existent sweatshops and a Chinese Prime Minister, Malaysia's censorship board simply chose to deem the film "definitely unsuitable" for local audiences. Singapore had also banned the film in 2001, but in 2006 reviewed the film with an R rating.
Although this movie featured one of actor Sacha Baron Cohen's many funny personalities, the actor had based his character, Admiral General Aladeen on actual dictators; Kim Jong-il, Idi Amin, Saparmurat Niyazov and Muammar Gaddafi. Highly controversial, Cohen's character in the film makes an excessive parody out of the worst qualities exhibited by a corrupt leader by sponsoring al-Qaeda, providing shelter to Osama bin Laden and developing nuclear weapons to attack Israel among others. Upon arriving in America for a United Nations meeting to defend his vile dictatorship, Aladeen finds that there is a plot to kidnap and murder him, and therefore has to goes into hiding. We didn't want to laugh at the many offensive scenes in the movie, but we just can't help it with a Sacha Baron Cohen movie!
The Last King of Scotland
This fictional account of a young Scottish doctor (James McAvoy) befriending a Uganda dictator Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) only to realise he wants to kill him to end his corruption is a chilling tale of greed, unlawful power and egoistic leadership. This story gives audiences a semi-factual insight on how Idi Amin; who often made up grand titles for himself; dubbed himself as the King of Scotland. When McAvoy arrives in Uganda as the dictator's personal physician, he finds out the despicable lengths Whitaker's character is willing to go to in order to achieve his means. Whitaker's ruthless portrayal of the dictator had earned him a Best Actor award at the Oscars.
There have been many movies based on the life and eventual assassination of America's beloved founding father of freedom, President Abraham Lincoln, but the best has got to be the 2012 Steven Spielberg adaptation starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the titular character. The movie recounts the trials and tribulations faced by Lincoln in ending the Civil War and maintaining the Emancipation Proclamation whilst fighting for the Thirteenth Amendment to be agreed upon by all parties. His unfortunate assassination at the Ford's Theatre was also recounted in the film in an indirect but meaningful series of scenes. Day-Lewis delivered such a flawless performance as Lincoln that the role had earned him a Best Actor Oscar.
Zero Dark Thirty
This very grim and serious film is about the hunt for al-Qaeda leader and terrorist, Osama bin Laden which eventually led to his discovery and death in his hideout in Pakistan. This Kathryn Bigelow slow-burn war thriller starring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke and Joel Edgerton is not one to be taken lightly especially where the C.I.A's torture and interrogation scenes are concerned in order to gather information on Bin Laden's whereabouts.
One of history's most hated dictators, Adolf Hitler was not spared from the countless depictions of him in various films as well, but perhaps the most elaborate one that chronicles the planning of his ultimate demise and journey towards reaching him for assassination purposes is best seen in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds". Although the film is a fictional alternate version from history that doesn't really give Hitler as much screen-time prominence as his fictional subordinate, SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), still, the overall effect of bringing down the Nazi leadership is quite significant in this raw and violent Tarantino fest.
Cinema Online, 18 December 2014