Aside from what most of us know about Nelson Mandela, I did not know much about the man in detail. I knew what he stood for, that he was imprisoned, and what he meant to the world and to South Africa in particular. Released shortly after Mandela’s death last year, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a chronicle of the peacemakers life.
Nelson Mandela (Idris Alba) was a South African lawyer who joined the African National Congress in the 1940s when Apartheid’s brutal system was tearing apart South Africa. Finding that peaceful protest was getting the people nowhere, Mandela and his cohorts resort to violence and are arrested and sentenced to life in prison. While incarcerated, Mandela’s cause grows as his resolve does, but those who still have to fight on the outside find it hard to maintain Mandela’s peaceful goals while violence erupts around them.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom seemed to be a much talked about film before its release, yet upon release it seemed to come and go with little fanfare. It was even left out of most awards lists which I find strange as it was a very strong and powerful film. Idris Alba is astounding as Mandela and gives his own spin to the role while still maintaining the true heart of the man. The writing and direction are both stellar and the entire supporting cast really give it their all. The film devotes about half the running time to Mandela’s pre-prison life and about half to his incarceration and it is paced brilliantly making for a fascinating journey through the man’s life. The fact that the only Oscar nod it received was for the U2 song is practically criminal, Alba should have been in the lineup for Best Actor, yet people could only whine that Tom Hanks wasn’t nominated for Captain Phillips, which wasn’t even one of his best roles. It was a major oversight but now is the chance for everyone to pick up Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and see what they are missing. Highly recommended.
The Blu-ray from eOne is gorgeous with beautiful African vistas even amidst the violence of history. The picture is clear and highly detailed with a solid soundtrack and should not be missed.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD.