Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

Director: Justin Chadwick

Nominated: Best Original Song

Mandela: Long Walk To FreedomI watched the entire film waiting for the song “Ordinary Love” to appear and it’s the blooming credit song! I know this sounds like I’m complaining but I’m not because Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom was a film I very much wanted to watch and actually lived up to the hype surrounding it. And there was a lot of hype – heightened by Nelson Mandela’s death occurring on the day of the UK premiere. I did find that kind of pervaded the film and created a greater sense of poignancy.

Idris Elba was magnificent as Nelson Mandela – he ad many of the characteristics down perfectly especially the way he walked. I liked the fact that they didn’t rely on makeup to transform Elba into Mandela but rather made the transformation through characteristics and behavior instead.

The film covers a lifetime, and an eventful one at that, in 2 and a half hours. As such there are a number of events that get covered quickly and I know that a number of critics felt that too little time was spent on Robben Island – a crucial period in Mandela’s life. I do see where they are coming from but I hold the opinion that you could create a separate film from the time Mandela spent on the island. Also the clue is in the title – Long Walk to Freedom – the story continues long after his incarceration.

Naomie Harris does well, as Winnie Madikize,  in a role that is quite unsympathetic. Indeed I came away with a very negative view of Winnie. She came to love power too much, more than her husband. I saw Winnie and Mandela as two sides of the same coin – where Winnie responded with hate and violence Mandela responded with love and forgiveness.

I wasn’t surprised to hear that “Ordinary Love”, the credit song nominated for Best Original Song, was penned and performed by U2 as they have always had a connection with Mandela. What can I say about the song? Well it’s the usual U2 fare. I came away from watching Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom forcefully reminded of what a remarkable figure Nelson Mandela was and a strong urge to read “Long Walk To Freedom” (1994, Nelson Mandela, Little Brown and Company: GB) in order to learn more about his eventful life.


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