DVD Review: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Nelson Mandela’s struggle for freedom, for not just himself but millions in South Africa, will forever be one of the most important stories of our time.
But the political heavyweight’s personal life has been uncovered just a little bit more in new biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.
And it’s a very long walk indeed.
Clocking in at two hours 20 minutes, the film gives a glimpse at the anti-Apartheid campaigner’s personal struggles, and the woman who stood by him for more than 30 years.
Idris Elba (Luther, Prometheus) is on his game as Mandela, in one of the English actor’s best performances to date. He nails the late Madiba’s political smarts and charisma, balancing it well with his private troubles. After Mandela, a lawyer, ends his first marriage, he begins to risk his freedom in order to build a political movement and case against those governing South Africa.
William Nicholson’s screenplay, based on Mandela’s autobiography, lays it all out, regardless of whether Mandela’s actions are good or not. It humanises Mandela, which will make some change their opinion of him. But Elba isn’t afraid to let Mandela’s vulnerability show, and was surely robbed of even just an Oscar nomination. The mix of the beautiful South African land and that corny but enjoyable U2 track make it a well-rounded watch.
But kudos must go to Naomi Harris for her performance as the head-strong Winnie. The soft-natured young woman, charmed by Mandela, comes into her own independence while her husband is locked away on Robben Island.
Winnie evolves into a rousing leader, but at great sacrifice. It’s both inspiring and heart-breaking watching as Nelson’s political profile rises and his relationship with Winnie breaks down.