Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom review

“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” turns out to be a very long movie as it encompasses a huge portion of the political figure’s life.

The movie begins with Nelson Mandela, played by Idris Elba, as a young attorney and follows his path to becoming an idealist and eventually a revolutionary leader. The movie also chronicles his personal life, including his marriage to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who was played by Naomie Harris.

Eventually, the movie also goes into detail about the 27 years Mandela spent in prison which was followed by his election as president of South Africa.

“Long Walk to Freedom” tries to undertake a monumental task in its attempt to tell the entire story of Mandela’s road to becoming president and leading South Africa to a better future, and unfortunately, it doesn’t fully pull it off. The reason the plot struggles is because there are just too many details.

There is so much going on in “Long Walk to Freedom,” and rightfully so, since the leader had an incredible life. However, since the movie has so much to cover, it just moves from one historical event to the next. The audience doesn’t get enough time to feel the weight or the depth of the situations covered in the film.

That being said, though, the movie is still interesting. Despite not being able to fully convey the emotion of every single event that happened over Mandela’s journey to the presidency, it still allows an audience to learn more about situations that they may not have known about.

The real saving grace of the movie and the reason to watch it in a theater is Elba, who delivers a very masterful performance. Elba captures the intelligent, strong and brave man that Mandela was and embodies the resiliency that the real figure showed through his years as a prisoner. The portrayal was so powerful that it carried the film even when some scenes didn’t particularly work.

The rest of the cast isn’t made up of many super stars, however, the film is well acted from start to finish. The acting never seemed phoned in and it was evident that the cast cared about the film they were making.

The acting in the film does provide a lot of heart and there are many historical details that serve as a learning experience to an audience. However, “Long Walk to Freedom” just takes on too much to really make an impact. Idris Elba does give a performance that is worth watching but it doesn’t push the film all the way. 3 out of 5.

This review was first published in the Dec. 31, 2013 issue of the Wahpeton Daily News.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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