A long walk to freedom

Edward Valencia, Writer/Parents and Teachers Editor

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, the new Nelson Mandela biopic starring Idris Elba, was released in American cinemas on Dec. 25.The film is based on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. The beginning of the film is well-paced as it chronicles Mandela’s tenure as an attorney in 1940s South Africa. The latter half of the film depicts Mandela’s incarceration and time in prison. Although the film does its best to keep the audience interested, the film drags for a brief period as Mandela’s 27 years in prison are meticulously portrayed. The film picks back up when Mandela is released from prison when violence and strife plagues South Africa, and ends after Mandela is elected as president.

For covering over fifty years of Mandela’s life, the film accomplishes a lot. It starts by depicting Mandela’s early years as an attorney before joining the African National Congress, a group advocating racial equality. During his transition to the ANC, the film introduces Mandela’s relationship with Winnie Madikizela, played by Naomie Harris, who later became his wife. As the film goes on however, it focuses less on their marriage and more on Mandela’s sabotage activities against the ruling white government. The film stays true to Mandela’s radical actions, including detonating bombs on government offices while no one was inside.

Harris excellently portrays Winnie Mandela, and is one of the year’s most underrated performances. Harris portrays Mandela’s transformation from being soft-spoken to becoming strong, defiant, and militaristic. Despite some understandable problems with pace, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a good movie that does Nelson Mandela justice, a biopic that finally captures Mandela’s transformation from a radical revolutionary to a symbol of peace and hope not just to South Africa, but to the world.