LONG WALK TO FREEDOM
SYNOPSIS: MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is based on South African President Nelson Mandela's autobiography of the same name, which chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country's once segregated society. Idris Elba (PROMETHEUS) stars as Nelson Mandela, Naomie Harris (SKYFALL) stars as Winnie Mandela, with Justin Chadwick (THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL) directing.
REVIEW: The recent death of Mr. Nelson “Madiba” Mandela has the potential to draw many out to theaters world-wide, to watch director Justin Chadwick’s (The First Grader, 2010) nearly two-and-a-half-hour masterpiece biopic about the anti-apartheid activist and former South African president. On the other hand, with so many vivid eulogies and intricate documentary accounts in the news media, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom can easily be dismissed as just another effort to capitalize on the larger-than-life icon. In any case, any film that tries to encompass most of Mr. Mandela’s long life carries an enormous burden of expectation and would probably be better off in the format of a TV miniseries instead of a two and a half hour feature film. This notion simply begs the questions, how can one film do the man justice? And in attempting to do so, how can it be vital and compelling rather than merely well-meaning and educational? Well, having seen many accounts of Madiba’s life story through varying media outlets; arguably this latest effort is, by far, the best attempt to account for his life-story to date.
Though many talented actors have tried, Idris Elba’s (Thor: The Dark World, 2013) fiery portrayal of Madiba is perhaps the best interpretation of the historical figure thus far on film. Elba is able to show the greatness, the flaws and the essences of Madiba’s humanity. He put on display, Mandela’s imperfections and shortcomings, such as his being a troublemaker from the early years of his life, but eventually ascending to prominence as an attorney and admired member of his society at some point. His athleticism, his adulterous side and his non-religious views were all front and center in this flick. He sacrificed his freedom and family, became a “most wanted” terrorist and at the same time was a visionary of high moral claims with intent at martyrdom.
This is an enlivened biopic that is sharp around the edges and smooth in pace. It presents a nice soundtrack that includes some of Bob Marley’s well known music that advocates for peace in Africa. Nice touch on the quality of film making, I must admit! Though I found some of the dialog of the movie quite heavy in the Afrikaans dialect at times, there is very little that I can say negative about this flick. It is a magnificent piece of storytelling and deserves five out of five stars. It is certainly worth the visit to the theaters, but DVD or pay-per-view with the whole family would suffice, just the same.
By Movi-Man Stan
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