A Magnificent Film about a One of the Great Figures of Our Time
I had the privilege of viewing a sneak preview of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom at the Austin Film Festival. This magisterial biopic is likely to become the definitive film treatment of the life of Nelson Mandela. It is beautifully filmed and as grand as the beauty of South Africa itself. It is an epic inspiring account of the life of Nelson Mandela spanning his entire adult life from the 1940s to his assumption of the Presidency of South Africa in 1994. The film presents Mandela as both a larger than life heroic figure and at the same time as human being struggling with an almost unimaginable burden as the human exemplar of his nation's struggle. The film is impressive and will bring Mandela's story to millions around the world.
The storytelling is powerful. The portrait of Mandela by Idris Elba is impressive as he presents his journey from young adult to grandfather of new multi-racial nation. He develops from an immature young man to man for whom suffering has created great wisdom, heroism and leadership. While he is presented as a hero, the film still manages to capture his human flaws through the difficulties with both his first and second wives. His dedication to his peoples' struggle comes at deep personal cost. The film is entrancing and deeply moving.
The struggle of his wife Winnie Mandela portrayed by Naomie Harris - is also deeply moving. She dedicates herself to her husband's struggle, but in some way her struggle is more difficult than his. The pain that strengthens him seems to embitter her and drive the two of them apart. Their love for each other and their courage is both inspiring and tragic. The portrayal of their marriage is heartbreaking. Their marriage becomes yet another casualty of the struggle against Apartheid.
While reviewers will undoubtedly find fault or historical inaccuracies, the film seems an honest portrayal of one of the great figures and one of the great struggles of the 20th century. It is highly recommend for those seeking a little more hope and inspiration.
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