There is something extra poignant about watching the life story of Nelson Mandela on the big screen since his passing.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is based on Mandela’s autobiography of the same name, which chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country’s once segregated society.
The movie packs a seemingly impossible amount into two-and-a-half hours showing what a rich, complicated and often painful life Mandela lived.
Twenty-seven years in prison, his transformation from a womanising lawyer to a world leader, his seemingly impossible struggle for racial reconciliation, the demise of his relationship with his wife Winnie, his pain when South Africa plunged into civil war after his prison release and the iconic moment he became South Africa’s first black president.
The scenes portraying Mandela as a young man working as a lawyer for black South Africans, allow us to learn where his strong morality and sense of honour came from and the early scenes of violence against unarmed South Africans paints a picture of just how repressive and horrifying apartheid was for black South Africans.
Despite the horrors served on his people, the final section of the film shows how Mandela never lost his sense of morality and belief that in order to achieve equality, hatred was not the way forward. We see him explain to his young grandchildren that it is wrong to treat the white man badly even though he has done it to us. He urges them to be better than them, because it is wrong to hate anyone for the colour of his skin. That Mandela was able to forgive his oppressors and ultimately lead South Africa to move forward through democratic politics rather than violence shows the strength of character he possessed.
This strength of character is contrasted with his wife’s transformation to a radical who seeks revenge and justice in the last days of Apartheid. However the film paints a picture of Winnie Mandela that allows us to understand the violence and persecution she lived through while her husband was imprisoned and enables us to fully appreciate how why the woman who once adored and idolised her husband ultimately defied him and became a symbol for all that he was against.
Idris Elba as Mandela commands respect and carries the portrayal of one of the world’s most inspirational men with ease. Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela, leads us through her transformation in such a moving way, that audiences are able to sympathise with and understand the woman who later committed such atrocities. Both actors make the film the masterpiece it is and deliver a performance that is undoubtedly worthy of a nod from the Oscars.
At the beginning of the film Mandela describes how his father labelled him a trouble maker in his younger years. He could not have foreseen that his son would become the world’s most iconic peace maker, turning the notion of a trouble maker on its head. Uniting the black South Africans to force unrelenting pressure on the oppressive South African regime until ultimately they allowed a democratic process, the man they originally viewed as a trouble maker became President and one of the world’s most inspirational leaders we are likely to ever see.
This is a must see film for anyone, and will give you the opportunity to learn about the man behind the legend. A man who was more passionate about equality and human rights than his own life.
Mandella: Long Walk to Freedom is in cinemas now.