DVD Review: A United Kingdom
On the surface, A United Kingdom is a by the numbers period drama: boy meets girl, love at first sight, get married, run away. In reality however, this tale of forbidden love is both fascinating and true.
It’s 1948 and Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), a prince of Bechuanaland is finishing off his education in England when he meets a white office worker, Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) at a missions dance. Cue love at first sight (only in the movies right? – but when you have less than two hours to tell an amazing story, courtship needs a bit of a hurry up). Of course because it’s 1948 Ruth’s family is not very happy that she wants to marry a black man. Her father goes as far as to disown her.
But that’s pretty much par for course in those days. The story gets interesting when Ruth gets a visit at work by a British Government official telling her she can’t marry Seretse. Silly man. If a girl falls in love and is strong enough to stand up to her fatrher, she’s certainly not going to listen to a stuck up man from the Government.
Love of course conquers all and the two get married and the happy couple go to Bechuanaland to settle down, but things there don’t go to plan as Seretse’s uncle who sees a white wife as an insult challenges Seretse’s claim to be King. With his own family and two governments (South Africa was in the process of constructing apartheid and didn’t want a mixed race couple ruleing a neighbouring country) trying to destroy the marriage things were going to get rocky.
Just how rocky, they were yet to discover.
A brilliant performance by David Oyelowo and a flawless study in quiet strength by Rosamund Pike combinbe to deliver one of the best historical dramas I have seen in a long time.
Rating: M Violence.