Barbet Schroeder

Scen.: Barbet Schroeder. F.: Néstor Almendros. M.: Denise de Casabianca. Int.: Idi Amin Dada. Prod.: Jean-François Chauvel, Charles-Henri Favrod, Jean-Pierre Rassam per Figaro Films, Mara Films, Télévision Rencontre. DCP. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Ugandan dictator Amin was a trash-talking, impulse-driven blowhard and an incorrigibly boastful performer, not without a sense of humor and a certain rough charm. With regard to his ideology, this jovially menacing former heavyweight boxing champ (6ft 4in and 240lb) might be described as a populist demagogue who, strategically xenophobic but essentially solipsistic, insultingly personalized his relations with foreign leaders… Originally subtitled No One Can Run Faster Than a Rifle Bullet, Barbet Schroeder’s portrait opened in Paris in June 1974… Schroeder’s career, which includes both documentaries and fiction, has been varied but coherent. “If Schroeder’s films can be said to share a common impulse,” Gavin Smith wrote in “Film Comment” in 1995, “it is toward examining the moral and philosophical consequences of extreme forms of extrasocial, if not antisocial, freedom.” […]
After completing his second feature, La Vallée (1972), Schroeder flew to Uganda with a crew, including the great Spanish-born cinematographer Néstor Almendros, hoping to get Amin’s cooperation in making a film. Although, to his surprise, Amin immediately agreed to the project, it seemed like a risky enterprise. “Before I went to Uganda to make the film, I made out a will,” Schroeder told a representative of “Interview”.
That Schroeder gave one of his first long American interviews to Andy Warhol’s magazine is appropriate… What his film has in common with those produced in Warhol’s Factory is its sense of its subject as a performative personality who needed no direction beyond knowledge of the camera’s placement in order to be (or reveal) himself… “I was not putting documentary footage into fiction,” Schroeder wrote. “I was putting fiction in a documentary, and it was not my fiction. It was Amin’s.” […] Général Idi Amin Dada, which Schroeder would later subtitle Autoportrait, is all about the dictator’s self-presentation.

J. Hoberman, General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait: A Tyrant for Our Times, Criterion.com, 17 December 2017

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