Mandela long walk to freedom review

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Can you imagine being separated from your loved ones for so long? How did this separation affect Mandela's relationships?

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mandela long walk to freedom review

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality. Learn how we rate. Parents' Ultimate Guide to Support our work!Starring Idris Elba and Naomie Harris. Directed by Justin Chadwick. Nelson Mandela's basic story is known to most Americans, but the details, as dramatized in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," will be a revelation for many.

Even those familiar with the history will be impressed and moved to see these events as Mandela experienced them, before the Nobel Prize and universal adulation recast the past in a glow of inevitability. What comes through in Idris Elba's performance is a leader of enormous emotional strength. Here's a man in his mids, sentenced to life in prison on Robben Island, where he is called "boy," forced to wear short pants and work at hard manual labor.

The international community is years away from caring. Clearly, only someone with a capacity to take the long view could find a shred of hope in this situation. Only someone with a regal sense of self could keep from breaking. And only someone with a preternatural mental discipline could resist falling into an all-consuming vat of resentment.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – review

The first is the obvious one, to make an audience understand and feel exactly what made Mandela remarkable. The second is more subtle.

It's a dramatic challenge, to maintain movement and velocity in a story in which the central character spends 27 years in prison. That it's possible to watch "Mandela" and not realize that difficulty is a measure of its success. The film tells Mandela's story from his early years, when he seemed poised for a comfortable life as a successful lawyer, albeit a life circumscribed by apartheid.

A certain temperamental inability to withstand or witness injustice draws him into revolutionary activity, where he rises to become the leader of the African National Congress. In these years, we see an angrier Mandela, who is also a womanizer. By the time he is imprisoned, he is already married to his second wife, Winnie, who is 18 years his junior. Elba's performance is commanding and physically meticulous.

As he ages through the film, he takes on the stiff gracefulness of the elderly Mandela, so familiar to us from news footage. At the same time, Elba cannot escape the difficulty that comes with playing any fantastically famous individual.

And so there's rarely a moment watching him that we are not consciously aware of his effort to talk and move like another person. This isn't terrible, and with as distinctive an individual as Mandela it was probably inevitable, and yet it's notable all the same.

'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' review: inspiring

With the lesser-known Winnie MandelaNaomie Harris has an easier time, and she emerges as a fierce and fascinating figure. She starts off as a young idealist, but government harassment and prison stretches radicalize her. There's a scene in which she leaves prison and tells the press and supporters that she is no longer afraid of anything.

Harris has a look in her eye - you believe her. The dynamic between Nelson and Winnie is complicated, with much being said between the lines. When Harris, as Winnie, looks at the white-haired Mandela, newly free, you know that she thinks she's stronger than he is, knows more than he does and really isn't all that interested in this elderly version of the strapping man she married decades before.Justin Chadwick's decent, respectful and respectable account of Nelson Mandela's life is vigorously scripted by William Nicholson, and intelligently acted by Idris Elba and Naomie Harris; it appears by a remarkable stroke of fate at almost at the same historical moment as Mandela's death, an event for which the western media had long prepared the shooting script of their own response.

The memorial event was naturally expected to be as calm and uplifting as an Olympic ceremony, just the sort of moment which in movie terms would furnish the opening scene, and from which the main drama would then unfold in flashback. In fact, of course, the event was disconcertingly chaotic and even faintly surreal, with press and media unsure quite how to cover the half-empty stadium, the booing of the incumbent president, the silly selfie, the meaningless sign-language.

So perhaps it is a relief to return to the accepted pieties of the biopic. In fact, and to give it its due, Nicholson's screenplay — based on Mandela's autobiography of the same name — avoids beginning with the traditional cliche of the old character looking back.

It gives a clear, strong narrative line showing the burly young trial lawyer and amateur boxer joining the ANC to fight apartheid and police brutality, getting radicalised by the Sharpeville massacre, passionately leading an armed struggle and then once in prison transforming his anguish and rage into a Zen mastery of exile.

He disarms his guards with a politician's knack of remembering their children's names and birthdays. Rather like a calmer version of Tolstoy's Father Sergius, his very retreat from the world gradually feeds his prestige and once free he is able to bring off a remarkable new metamorphosis into South African president and inspirational world leader. Idris Elba conveys as much as any actor could of the enigma of Mandela's long experience in prison: it is a performance of sensitivity and force: his impersonation of the walking, talking Mandela is sharply observed, though it isn't just mimicry, and Naomie Harris is very good as Winnie, who mostly outside prison did not have the luxury of saintly inactivity and had to do what she saw as the dirty work of getting violent with the ANC's enemies and also with those traitors on her own team.

It is a thoroughly well-managed movie, although it sees events purely in South African terms: it steers clear, for example, of the fact that US intelligence forces helped the 60s South African government to arrest Mandela in It could perhaps have probed a little further into the mystery of exactly what Nelson thought about his wife's activities while he was in prison and exactly what tensions were caused with his imprisoned comrades by finally deciding to negotiate with the government in the late s.

Perhaps a separate film could be made about just this love story. One of the movie's shrewdest moments comes at the very beginning: the ambitious and smart young lawyer takes a case defending a black maid accused of stealing her white mistress's clothing. With studied insolence, Mandela takes one of the disputed undergarments, suggests it is the accused's rightful property and asks the woman to examine it while in the witness box.

Of course, he gambles that this haughty racist woman would not tolerate being intimately questioned by a black man on such matters; she storms out of the court and the prosecution case collapses. This farcical moment shows the racial tension and racial contempt underlying the theoretical fairness of the law-court: it is an interesting counterpoint to Mandela's own defiance in the dock as he faces a guilty verdict in Is she not Nelson's own Umkhonto we Sizwe, the spear of the nation, his own armed wing — the Armalite to Nelson's promised ballot box?

The film shows that she herself did time in prison, without ever accruing the aura that gathered around her husband. It is a potent performance from Naomie Harris, and the film does not shrink from the showing the grisly "necklacing": but the movie, perhaps like public opinion itself, is tonally unsure about Winnie, unable to triangulate the uneasy alternate needs to condemn and condone.

Unlike Lean's Lawrence or Attenborough's Gandhi, Justin Chadwick's subject is the stuff of contemporary newspaper headlines and current live-TV funeral coverage. If it is a bit stately, that is understandable: his life story really is extraordinary. The movie pays homage — in good faith. Peter Bradshaw's film of the week Biopics. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom — review.

Idris Elba gives a powerful central performance in a biopic that treads respectfully while not shying from the uglier truths of the ANC's fight against apartheid. Peter Bradshaw.

Reuse this content.In a key scene of "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," a new biopic about South African leader Nelson Mandela, a judge tells Mandela Idris Elba that he's being sentenced to life imprisonment so that he can't become a martyr. Mandela says he's willing to die for his cause, and the judge replies, "I will not give you that satisfaction. The makers of "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" did what that judge refused to, though for very different reasons: they let their admiration for Mandela's suffering define their drama.

The film reduces Mandela's ideas to impassioned sloganeering, and the repercussions of his ideas to unmoving montage sequences. It emphasizes his year imprisonment as the foundation of his credibility, making the dense layers of make-up that are used to make a typically captivating Idris Elba the proof of his character's struggle. The makers of "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" have good intentions, but they don't effectively dramatize what they think makes their subject great.

Mandela's life in "Long Walk to Freedom" is defined by pained optimism. As a young lawyer, Mandela petitions for equality from a government that he soon discovers is only selectively fair.

But that changes after a friend is beaten mercilessly just because he's drunk, feels queasy and lacks proper documentation. This incident is poorly dramatized, happening in a flash. But it's supposed to have a profound effect on Mandela. With these peers, he moves crowds to protest with his speeches.

His oration is that much more powerful because of Elba's delivery; if I could vote to put Elba in office, I would stuff the ballot boxes. Up until his trial and imprisonment, Mandela is treated as a hallowed figure. This is in spite of the filmmakers' half-hearted attempts to make him appear human. He is shown having an affair with a woman, but that subplot is only important in that it adds pathos to his story; it suggests that Mandela has skeletons in his closet that the movie isn't inclined to examine.

Still, Mandela is a romantic icon, and the makers of "Long Walk to Freedom" understandably treat him as such. His voice cuts through the garbled voices of white radio announcers, the ones who make major events like the Sharpeville Massacre sound distant and unreal. The ANC's protests are filmed with context-free awe. So when a political office is blown up, you can enjoy the spectacle while effectively ignoring Mandela when he says that he is "not a violent man" but will use violence as a means to an end.Idris Elba is a gifted actor unable to hone in to one aspect of his iconic character.

How Nelson Mandela Fought for Equality and Freedom

Director Justin Chadwick goes all in on the performance without an angle to challenge it. Long Walk of Freedom is the Mandela show, for better or worse. Have you seen Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom?

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Review. Well-acted, but unwieldy biopic. Nelson Mandela stands a little over six-feet tall. In his thirties, the South African revolutionary was lanky, but fit enough to box. Though violence would eventually enter the equation in Mandela's fight for freedom, voice was his weapon of choice. He naturally stood above crowds, his cries bellowing across people in the streets from the soapbox gifted to him by genetics.

In Mandela: Long Walk to FreedomThor and Pacific Rim actor Idris Elba stars as the famed political figure, a casting that mythologizes the leader from legend to full-blown superhero. He lives on top a pedestal; literally, director Justin Chadwick's camera drifts below the actor whenever he speaks, framing him like a titan walking among men. It's a deserving respect, but a tactic that leaves the film stunted.

Elba is too powerful in the role. Mandela's life oscillated between hardships and triumphs. Long Walk to Freedom presents a steady climb up with a few bumps along the way. It's a huge undertaking that, even at minutes, feels like skimming biographical SparkNotes, hitting major milestones and turning points then racing quickly to the next. After a whiff of his traditional upbringing, the film leaps forward to where Mandela is cutting his teeth as a lawyer in Johannesburg.

The courts are an arena plagued by racial friction, igniting Mandela's passion for freedom. A whole movie could be spent on this slice of life, and Elba would chew the scenery to bits. He's charismatic, ferocious, and fallible as the young Mandela, a forward-thinking individual susceptible to the vices, primarily sex.

As Mandela becomes entangled with the African National Congress revolution, he watches a marriage come and go, juggling protests, his family, and other women. The lawyer's zest for life is overflowing and Long Walk to Freedom only has time to catch traces of it. At once, he's smitten by the love of his life and rallying South Africa to risk their lives at true social change. What's missing from Long Walk to Freedom is an answer to why and how Mandela could boldly step in all of these directions.

mandela long walk to freedom review

In Winnie, Mandela finds a wife who will stand by him in the trenches. But their courtship lasts three scenes — a meeting, a date, and a proposal. Verdict Idris Elba is a gifted actor unable to hone in to one aspect of his iconic character.

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Genres: Drama. Platforms: Theater.Forgot your password? Don't have an account? Sign up here. Already have an account? Log in here. By creating an account, you agree to the Privacy Policy and the Terms and Policiesand to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango. Please enter your email address and we will email you a new password. We want to hear what you have to say but need to verify your account.

mandela long walk to freedom review

Just leave us a message here and we will work on getting you verified. It might be too respectful to truly soar, but there's no denying Idris Elba's impressive work in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom -- or the inspirational power of the life it depicts.

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Book Review: Long Walk to Freedom - Nelson Mandela

Rate this movie. Oof, that was Rotten. Meh, it passed the time. So Fresh: Absolute Must See! You're almost there! Just confirm how you got your ticket. Cinemark Coming Soon.

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Regal Coming Soon. By opting to have your ticket verified for this movie, you are allowing us to check the email address associated with your Rotten Tomatoes account against an email address associated with a Fandango ticket purchase for the same movie. It stars Idris Elba, a suitably great and charismatic actor, but even he cannot save this from seeming like a history lesson, as delivered by one of those teachers who can't seem to breathe life into a subject.

Deborah Ross. It would have been more compelling had Winnie been the main focus, especially given the number of Mandela films there already have been in recent years. But you can't hate on it to too much; it brought us the remarkable Naomie Harris.

Candice Frederick. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh. Dwight Brown. What Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom ends up doing is flattering and sanctifying its subject. Mandela deserves better than kisses and compliments. So does the audience. Ryan Gilbey. Not so much a drama as a kind of protracted educational video, the message driven home by a soupily emotional score and repeated flashbacks, sometimes in slo-mo, to Mandela's golden memories of the past, bathed in sunlight.

David Sexton. It is Mandela's legacy of love, forgiveness and reconciliation that makes the biggest impression. Richard Crouse. The performances are outstanding, headlined by Idris Elba's powerfully convincing portrayal of the iconic revolutionary. Mike Massie. Inspired performances by both Idris Elba and Naomie Harris. Richard Propes.Everything was in order, and there were no glitches with any of our reservations. We especially loved the travel guide the itineraries were well laid out and we made good use of the suggested highlights and optional activities.

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