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The camera records many candid scenes of Amin and his military in action : the paratroopers practice their exercises on a slide similar to those that would be found in a children's playground; a welcoming committee of villagers is forced to flee the dust and backdraft from Amin's helicopter as it lands; a cabinet member picks his nose with the end of a pencil during one of Amin's speeches in a cabinet meeting. In one sequence, Amin upbraids his cabinet ministers for their failure to represent Uganda "correctly" to the world. Even while remonstrating with his foreign minister for his public-relations failures, he is jocular and joking as always — two weeks later, the documentary points out, the foreign minister's body was found floating in the River Nile.
However, Amin's influence as a "director" went beyond the actual filming of Idi Amin Dada. As per his agreement with Amin, Barbet Schroeder made two versions of his documentary : the first, an hour-long cut, was released in Uganda and delivered directly to Amin, who was apparently pleased with the result. The second version was released only outside Uganda and contained an additional half-hour of footage and narration.
According to Schroeder, Amin dispatched his agents in Britain to watch the film and write down a full transcript of its contents. Amin soon sent a letter to Schroeder requesting additional cuts to the film, but Schroeder refused. In response, Amin rounded up almost 200 French citizens living in Uganda and confined them to a hotel surrounded by the Ugandan army, supplying them with Schroeder's home telephone number and explaining that their release was conditional on Schroeder's acquiescence. In the face of this dilemma, Schroeder made the requested cuts, replacing the 2½ minutes of excised footage with title cards crediting the gaps to Amin. On Amin's fall from power, Schroeder restored the missing material, and most versions seen today contain the full footage.
His Excellency Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada, Ex-President of Uganda, Conqueror of the British Empire, Victorious CrosS Member of the Excellent Order of the Source of the Nile (Not to Mention Wife- Eater, Beer-Swiller, Pub Singer, Bloody Dictator and Damned Fool) ; Richard Dowden Recalls Amin's Reign of Terror, Which Started Thirty Years Ago Today
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