The Long and Winding Road
Film: Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Cast: Idris Elba, Naomi Harris
Directed by: Justin Chadwick
Duration: 2 hrs 21 mins
Rating: * * *
Based on the autobiography by Nelson Mandela, director Justin Chadwick chronicles the life of one of the most revered personalities of all time. The film was shown at festivals (including the International Film Festival of India) just before Madiba passed away. Incidentally, it was Shekhar Kapoor who was supposed to make this film, years ago.
The chronicles Mandela’s life are fairly we known, especially the fact that he was jailed for almost 27 years and went on to become the first black President of South Africa and was also instrumental in ending apartheid in South Africa.
His story is no doubt a very powerful one but how does the film fare? Well, it offers a mixed bag. Bio-pics are always tough to do there is always the question of how much to show and how much to leave out. One of the best, if not the best biopic of all time is Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi which was over 3 hours but yet it is one of those films you can watch over and over again.
Idris Elba plays Nelson Mandela and it begins with his roots and as a young man how he did his best to help his people as a lawyer. His first marriage was on the rocks especially after he got involved with Winnie (Naomi Harris) whom he married later. Mandela’s tryst with the ANC and his subsequent imprisonment in Robben Island are all depicted here.
While the middle portions meander, the grip is again firm towards the end when he is about to be released from prison to become the President. Mandela would have perhaps become a more taut motion picture if it was trimmed a little bit. There are quite a few unnecessary flashbacks and certainly no one would have missed much if they had omitted showing him put a hand up Winnie's skirt. The editing is lax as there is too much information in some instances here while other bits seem rushed.
The production values are of high standards considering they have recreated the settings that span over a few decades. Of the cast, Idris Elba and puts up a splendid performance and steals the show. Naomi Harris as Winnie Mandela is apt.
All said and seen, Mandela is watchable because of the powerful story rather than the depiction of the story.
Published in The Navhind Times on 26th Jan 2014