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World Leaders in film

ForestWhitaker-IdiAmin.jpgWell it's coming up to the American Presidential elections and rather than ask that age old question, “who are the best fictional U.S. Presidents in film?” I thought I'd open it up to the rest of the world and ask, who have given the best portrayals of World Leaders in film? Now that doesn't mean U.S. Presidents are excluded from the list, just that we're looking at the rest of the world too.

I have to admit I found that quite hard, although when I started thinking about it names started to appear, and not just of American Presidents, in fact American Presidents seemed to be the harder to find.

Oh sure if this was fictional then we'd just pull up a list of disaster and action films the length of my arm and we'd have presidents galore to choose from, but we're looking at real life world leaders who have been portrayed in film.

There's a list of world leaders I wished had been portrayed in film too, I looked but I couldn't find decent portrayals that really stood out, if they even existed. Winston Churchill, some of the key leaders of Russia, African leaders seemed to be rather few and far between, India, China, Japan, Australia, South America, everywhere in fact.

However I've pulled out a list that I thought was a good representation of world leaders in film, see what you think, and please do add more as they come to mind. Remember we're looking for leaders from all around the world who have been portrayed in film. See if you can think of more.

John Lone as Emperor Pu Yi in The Last Emperor
What a stunning film to watch, The Last Emporer follows Emperor Pu Yi and his country's journey towards a new world. The character is played very well by John Lone, but it's more about the film as a whole than anything else.

Dennis Haysbert as Nelson Mandella in Goodbye Bafana
He's played a fictional U.S. President before but Dennis Haysbert played Nelson Mandella before he was released from prison and became the South African President. There's no doubt that there's many a story to be told about this world leader yet and Morgan Freeman is the next to play him, also an actor who has played a fictional U.S. President in Deep Impact, in his first year as South African President fighting to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup in The Human Factor.

Anthony Hopkins as Richard Nixon in Nixon
Although there's probably a fair amount of this film that isn't exactly word for word as it happened, Nixon is the biggest portrayal of a U.S. President that I can think of, played as it is by the great Anthony Hopkins in an Oliver Stone film, how much bigger and better can you get than that? Well perhaps Frank Langella when Frost/Nixon is released.

Judi Dench as Queen Victoria in Mrs Brown
Judi Dench is a superb actress, and she plays a wonderful character in Queen Victoria for Mrs Brown. Perhaps the second best performance of a British Queen next to Helen Mirren. Here she's a commanding but very human character, and you do feel as though this could have been how Queen Victoria really was.

Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth
Less historical fact and more cinematical goodness here, but Cate Blanchett is as commanding as Judi Dench. Another great British Queen brought to the big screen but perhaps not the strongest in historical fact. Both the Elizabeth films look great, and the first is much stronger than the second which is a poor film that looks sumptuous and doesn't deliver much more.

Josh Brolin as George W. Bush in W.
I haven't seen Josh Brolin as George W. Bush in anything other than pictures, teasers and trailers, and I have to say that he looks and sounds wonderful. The question is does the film live up to the expectations? I'm not so sure. Recently the footage has been pointing us to a rather comical and much less realistic view of the President and his life. I wish it had been a proper film about the man and his decisions though.

Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen
Undoubtedly the best on screen Queen we've seen, well in the realm of world leaders that is. Helen Mirren portrays the current Queen wonderfully in a film that does mix fact with fiction, but feels as close to fact as any film about the Royal family could get. Her character opens up a human side to the Queen and does so wonderfully in this film heavy on characters and excellent writing.

Ben Kingsley as Mohandas Gandhi in Gandhi
Surely the best portrayal of a world leader there's ever been, well you'd think so but not on this list. Ben Kingsley's portrayal of Mohandas Ghandi is legendary and won the actor an Oscar, two BAFTA's and two Golden Globes for his performance. That's not counting the smaller awards he's picked up for the performance, and rightly deserved too. The film is a classic and his portrayal just as iconic.

Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland
I actually think that Forest Whitaker's performance of Idi Amin is the best portrayal of a world leader that I've ever witnessed, yes I believe even better than Ben Kingsley as Ghandi. Whitaker's performance is stunning, and intensely powerful. The film itself is also a superb one and carries some great performances from the other leading actors with a superb script to back it up, but Whitaker stole the show as Amin, and I think pips it to the front of the world leaders in film.


Are there any more that I've missed? Any portrayals of actual world leaders that you can think? What about the list I've chosen, do you agree?





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Comments

"Josh Brolin as George W. Bush in W.
"I haven't seen Josh Brolin as George W. Bush in anything other than pictures, teasers and trailers, and I have to say that he looks and sounds wonderful. The question is does the film live up to the expectations? I'm not so sure. Recently the footage has been pointing us to a rather comical and much less realistic view of the President and his life. I wish it had been a proper film about the man and his decisions though."

If you haven't seen the film, how can you say you're "not sure" it lives up to expectations? If you haven't seen the film, how do you know it's not "a proper film about the man and his decisions though"?

That second last sentance that you quoted says exactly how.

Looks like the Telegraph is also reading Filmstalker!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/11/04/bfmoviepresidents.xml

What about Trey Parker as Kim Jong il in Team America: World Police ;-)

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