Sometimes it is a challenge to present a film based upon a person who is much-loved and admired. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom was one of the most-awaited and thought-provoking films of the year. Based on the revolutionary’s autobiography of the same name, the film gave its viewers a chance to know Nelson Mandela in a way never showed before on celluloid.
Directed by Justin Chadwick and scripted by William Nicholson – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom cannot be called a perfect memoir of the legendary freedom fighter, but it definitely was a good attempt. It documents the socio-political life of Nelson Mandela right from his childhood in the 1920s to his inauguration day on May 10, 1994 as South Africa’s first Black president.
Idris Elba as Mandela did a noteworthy job even though he hardly looks like the subject. However, he successfully nailed the character with powerful stagecraft. As the young Mandela, Elba gave quite a performance and was pretty expressive with his accent, as well as the body language. However, at the later part of the movie, while portraying the aging Mandela he went a little bit flat. A commendable performance was delivered by Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela – Nelson Mandela’s second wife. A certain zeal and energy reflected in her character, and the audience can actually feel it while watching her on screen.
In some scenes of the movie you get a nostalgic feeling. The life of the leader it chronicles is overwhelming. The magnetic performance by both the actors Idris Elba and Naomie Harris helped the movie give a lyrical exploration of the political and the social scenario of that era and how it affected a person’s life and personal relationships. What is worth mentioning is Naomie Harris role as Winnie – the lone struggler of the anti-Apartheid struggle when Mandela was sent away to Robben Island for almost three decades.
U2’s soundtrack ‘Ordinary Love’ with beautiful lyrics also helped keeping the spirits up in the movie. However, the film cannot be counted as one of the most memorable biopics ever made. At some parts, the movie dragged a little bit. But British director Justin Chadwick and screenwriter William Nicholson presented before us a laudable movie with multiple layers which is crucially dramatic. It successfully showed a man’s youthful political idealism gradually turning into a passion which the world will always remember.