Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom-2013

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom-2013

Director-Justin Chadwick

Starring-Idris Elba, Naomie Harris

Scott’s Review #169

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Reviewed September 13, 2014

Grade: B

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom recounts the true story of the life and times of South African leader Nelson Mandela chronicling 50 plus years of his life from 1942 to 1994, his passion for freedom and dedication to anti-apartheid, his battles with the government, and his struggles to survive in prison.

The film is shot beautifully, the cinematography gorgeous, and the South African landscape is breathtaking.

I enjoyed the chemistry between Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, who played Nelson Mandela and his second wife Winnie respectively and Elba, in particular, is very well cast. He is charismatic, handsome, and calm, and perfectly encompasses the famous leader’s mannerisms.

It was interesting to be exposed to a biopic that spanned such a lengthy period and, in a way, is a history lesson for the viewer, especially viewers young enough not to completely remember all the details of Mandela’s life. I was too young to know of all of Mandela’s trials and tribulations.

For example, I knew he was imprisoned and released, but had no idea of how long he had spent in prison and away from his wife and family. I got the sense that factually, some details were either embellished or skipped over entirely. I’ve heard this criticism from some moviegoers regarding Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

A few drawbacks- this film is VERY Hollywood. It has a glossy feel to it. I would have preferred a bit more grit to it. Was there any sexual abuse while Mandela was imprisoned? Was Winnie abused while she was in prison? Why was the lack of sexuality in Mandela’s and Winnie’s marriage in later years alluded to, but never explored?

This seemed to be a negative to the film.

Being that the film is rated PG-13, aspects are toned down and it has a very safe feel.

Also, for such a perfect shot and designed film, the aging makeup was dreadful! It was apparent that Idris Elba was wearing a glued-on, unflattering grey wig. Furthermore, the woman playing Mandela’s mother was surely the same age if not younger than Elba, with dyed grey hair. This aspect seemed poorly produced.

Overall, Mandela: A Long Walk Freedom is a good film, largely due to its acting and the look of the film, but it is not a great one.

Oscar Nominations: Best Original Song-“Ordinary Love”

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