Timely biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom appropriates the feel of a sumptuous historical drama without delivering the depth or emotion that this requires.
As a lawyer in South Africa of the 1940s, Nelson Mandela becomes with involved with the ANC, a political movement aimed at ending apartheid. As his involvement in the movement grows, so does his stature in South African politics…
Justin Chadwick’s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom works well as an educational piece. It functions to inform viewers about the life of Nelson Mandela, his struggles and rise to power. It is a good introduction to Mandela as a historical figure.
The drawback of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom is that in covering most of Mandela’s life it needs to condense a lot into the 139 minute running time. The film follows Mandela from a student to leader of South Africa. It is impossible to cover the main events as well as offer sufficient depth and context. Thus what the audience receives is the journey of Mandela without much time allocated to reasons and feelings.
Perhaps the most fascinating part of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom is the relationship between the title character and Winnie Mandela. It is interesting to see how these two characters diverge with the increased stress and scrutiny that they are placed under. What would have been even more engrossing was if there was more of an explanation of why the two took such different paths.
Idris Elba delivers a distinguished performance as Nelson Mandela. What makes the performance more remarkable is that Elba bears little physical resemblance to the character he is playing. Naomie Harris is also convincing as Winnie. There is some great cinematography, but the score is overbearing at times.
Although Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom ticks the biopic box adequately, it does not quite cover the complexity of the life of Nelson Mandela.