A United Kingdom

Based on an incredible true story, A United Kingdom is a beautifully crafted film with strong acting performances that tells a remarkable story of forbidden love. Set in the late 1940s, the story follows Seretse Khama, the black King of Bechuanaland (modern-day Botswana) and portrayed by David Oyelowo, and his controversial romantic relationship with a white British woman named Ruth Williams, played by Rosamund Pike, whom he met during his studies in London. To the chagrin of British authorities and his family and tribe back home, they eventually marry and move back to his hometown in Africa to officially become the king of his people. The British government fear that the interracial couple will interfere with politics, particularly the government’s relationship with South Africa, which just imposed apartheid criminalizing interracial marriage. It is believed that South Africa could use the marriage as a pretext to invade colonial Botswana, or the British could lose out on the potential for oil and other minerals in the region. Despite opposition, internationally, and from Khama’s own powerful uncle who served as regent, they steadfastly refuse to divorce, and they start their own family in Bechuanaland even though they are threatened with exile and a lengthy separation from one another. At one point during a meeting with British authorities, he is not allowed to leave England and cannot visit his wife who is still in Africa. Their case to be allowed to live in his beloved homeland as ruler makes its way all the way through the British Parliament and is even discussed by Winston Churchill. The movie is especially poignant because it tells a truly extraordinary story I have never heard of about injustice and race relations that feels particularly relevant in today’s divisive political climate. It is made even more powerful as a result of the terrific performances of the two main lead actors whose chemistry makes the characters’ profound love feel realistic. Overall, I found it to be a must-see film about how forbidden love due to unjust laws can be overcome, with brilliant filmmaking and acting to boot.

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