Movie review by Rashid Irani: Dissatisfied by Mandela Long Walk to Freedom

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom official poster

    Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom official poster. It is biographical film on the late South African president directed by Justin Chadwick.

  • A still from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

    The film chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President.

  • Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela

    Based on Mandela's 1994 autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, Idris Elba portrays the character of the revolutionary president.

  • Naomie Harris in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

    Naomie Harris plays Mandela's wife. Harris has received a lot of critical acclaim for her acting.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

    Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom garnered a lot of curiosity after his death late last year.

Direction: Justin Chadwick
Actors: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris
Rating: 3

A film tribute to the iconic anti-apartheid crusader was more than essential. 

Commencing with his childhood, taking in his coming of age, the evolution of a radical freedom movement and 27 years of incarceration, the biopic ends with Nelson Mandela’s election as South Africa’s first black president.

Much too compressed, the adaptation of the statesman’s 1994 autobiography leaves you somewhat dissatisfied. 

Instead of inviting us close to understand the great leader, the endeavour is a solemn history lesson. Mandela deserved better. On the positive side, the film is informative and intermittently inspirational, particularly for the replay of some of Mandela’s powerful speeches.

The project is served admirably by its lead actor, Idris Elba. Despite the script which keeps leaping from one era and its events to another, the actor remains consistent, delivering a career-defining performance.

Mandela’s grey areas, like his roving eye and his failed first marriage are touched upon only briefly. As Winnie Mandela, Naomie Harris registers a strong screen presence. Released a few weeks after Mandela’s death, the film does have an immediacy, a rousing music score and technical finesse.

With all its deficiencies, it is still worth a watch.

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