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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 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:

View content advisory »



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?


Tom Hooper was linked to the director role for this film and even met Nelson Mandela during development. See more »


During the celebrations when the ANC win the elections in 1994, one of the people in the crowd is wearing a South African cricket T-shirt from after 2011. 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 »


Follows Invictus (2009) See more »


Ordinary Love
Written by Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr. and Danger Mouse
Performed by U2
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A noble but safe bio-pic
21 January 2014 | by freemantle_ukSee all my reviews

Nelson Mandela is one of the most important and celebrated political history, known for his imprisonment, his stand against apartheid and his commitment to peace and racial equality. A film based on his autobiography was always going to be of interest and seen as clear awards bait.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom follows a young Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) in his early days in politics, working as a lawyer in Johannesburg, 1942 and is approached by the ANC to become an achieve member of the defiance movement. During the cause of the film it follows Mandela's relationship with Winnie Madikizela (Naomie Harris), his move into violence, his trial and imprisonment. But the 1980s South Africa becomes ungovernable the Apartheid regime are forced to open negotiations with Mandela.

Mandela's autobiography is a large book, spanning nearly 800 pages and the film attempts to tell the story of over 50 years of history in a 2 hour, 20 minute package. This results in a bio-pic of broad brushstrokes, giving ups brief snippets of moments in Mandela's life, giving us a glance of events instead of going into any details. This is especially the case of the early part of the film, skipping through Mandela's early political activism, the foray into terrorism and the trial. Even the events on Robbin Island were quick and it was only when the film enters into the political negotiations when there is more of a narrative throughout and we able to feel the violent tension South Africa was going through.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom has an excellent cast with the likes of Elba and Harris and they performs were able to transcend the fact they did not look the like people they did played. They get the voices and mannerisms down as the film explores Mandela's and Winnie's different ideologies later on in the film. They relationship is one of the longest running themes of the films. The supporting cast were also very strong in their performances and there was no weak link in the film.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom was helmed by Justin Chadwick and written by William Nicholson. Chadwick is a very safe director and Mandela is a competently made film. His direction is solid, showing casing the period effective, with set pieces being well set up and well shot as the film goes through a lighting pace. But it was the script that was the biggest let down, with Nicholson rushing through Mandela's life instead of letting moments have a chance to breath. This was a film that either needed to be longer, a three hour epic so many parts of Mandela's life could be explored or been more focused on one or two events. There were parts that were just screen writing tricks then a real moments, like the fist metaphor.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a solidly made, but safe film. There are excellent moments in the second half of the film as South Africa implodes with violence, but it is a very safe film that tries to fit too much in its running time. It is a film that can easily appeal to a middle -aged, mainstream audience.


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