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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)

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A chronicle of Nelson Mandela's life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.


Justin Chadwick


William Nicholson (screenplay), Nelson Mandela (autobiography)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 12 wins & 31 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Idris Elba ... Nelson Mandela
Naomie Harris ... Winnie Madikizela
Tony Kgoroge Tony Kgoroge ... Walter Sisulu
Riaad Moosa Riaad Moosa ... Ahmed Kathrada
Zolani Mkiva Zolani Mkiva ... Raymond Mhlaba
Simo Mogwaza Simo Mogwaza ... Andrew Mlangeni
Fana Mokoena ... Govan Mbeki
Thapelo Mokoena ... Elias Motsoaledi
Jamie Bartlett Jamie Bartlett ... James Gregory
Deon Lotz ... Kobie Coetzee
Terry Pheto ... Evelyn Mase
Zikhona Sodlaka Zikhona Sodlaka ... Nosekeni
S'Thandiwe Kgoroge S'Thandiwe Kgoroge ... Albertina Sisulu
Tshallo Sputla Chokwe Tshallo Sputla Chokwe ... Oliver Tambo
Sello Maake Ka-Ncube Sello Maake Ka-Ncube ... Albert Luthuli (as Sello Maake)


Nelson Mandela is a South African lawyer who joins the African National Congress in the 1940s when the law under the Apartheid system's brutal tyranny proves useless for his people. Forced to abandon peaceful protest for armed resistance after the Sharpeville Massacre, Mandela pays the price when he and his comrades are sentenced to life imprisonment for treason while his wife, Winnie, is abused by the authorities herself. Over the decades in chains, Mandela's spirit is unbowed as his struggle goes on in and beyond his captivity to become an international cause. However, as Winnie's determination hardens over the years into a violent ruthlessness, Nelson's own stature rises until he becomes the renowned leader of his movement. That status would be put to the test as his release nears and a way must be found to win a peaceful victory that will leave his country, and all its peoples, unstained. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence and disturbing images, sexual content and brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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UK | South Africa | France


English | Afrikaans | Xhosa

Release Date:

25 December 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom See more »


Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$84,283, 1 December 2013, Limited Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In order to prepare for the role, the actor Idris Elba spent a night in the real Robben Island prison, locked in a cell next to the one where Nelson Mandela was jailed for 18 years. See more »


When Nelson Mandela is released from prison on 11th February 1990, there is a Mercedes W140 waiting which was first manufactured in August 1991. See more »


Nelson Mandela: I have walked a long walk to freedom. It has been a lonely road, and it is not over yet. I know that my country, was not made to be a land of hatred. No one is born hating another person because the color of his skin. People learn to hate. They can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart.
See more »


Referenced in Chelsea Lately: Episode #7.189 (2013) See more »


Ordinary Love
Written by Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr. and Danger Mouse
Performed by U2
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Bio needs more insight, less history.
24 December 2013 | by jdesandoSee all my reviews

"The political or spiritual hero will always be the one who, when others crumbled, stood firm till the new order built itself around him; who showed a way out and beyond where others could only see written 'no thoroughfare.'" William James

The recent death of South African hero Nelson Mandela demands a biography that deals with the fall of apartheid and the rise of a global icon. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom gives an informative history of the hero (played by the towering Idris Alba) from his formative days as a lawyer in the 1940's to his ascension to the presidency of South Africa in 1994.

However it doesn't give the full measure of his arguments or even thoughts about steering the country of 30 million blacks to a majority rule. The intriguing process of moving from violence to peaceful elections is telescoped in favor of a superficial time line. I longed for a fuller dialogue between the white administrators and imprisoned Mandela as they sought a peaceful resolution to the growing unrest in the majority population.

Similarly, I needed more dialogue between the balanced Mandel and his incendiary wife, Winnie (Naomie Harris), whose alleged crimes against humanity but subsequent election to the African national Congress confirmed her as a lightning rod for the complex balancing of power in South Africa. While the narrative shows Mandela's notorious womanizing, it gives too little attention to perhaps the most interesting figure of all, Winnie.

In my discussions with a young man about the film, I discovered our differing points of view came from his enjoying the historical time line and my wanting the words that motivated the history. Thus I am of two minds about Mandela: The history lesson is well presented; the words and negotiations that engendered a global and historical grand opera were too lean.

I recognize the story is about Nelson and not Winnie, but this film is also storytelling, and much more story is inherent in Winnie's narrative than the slow 27 years of Nelson's incarceration. If you're young, you'll learn about a defining hero of the 20th and 21st centuries. If you're seasoned like me, you'll want the words.

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