Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

by Louise Adams
Tuesday Mar 18, 2014
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

Madiba was Nelson Mandela's Xhosa clan name, and his journey from tribal child to lawyer to African National Congress activist to political prisoner to president is recounted in director Justin Chadwick's "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," adapted by William Nicholson from the autobiography.

Apartheid was alive and well in South Africa in 1960, with "Europeans Only" signs mirroring those in the U.S., when the military opened fire in the Sharpeville Township, shooting hundreds of men, women and children in their backs while peacefully protesting having to carry identification cards.

This slaughter galvanized Mandela (commanding and sympathetic Idris Elba) and an ANC coterie to attack "soft targets," not aiming for people but only harming the tools of the white minority oppressors. He was finally caught and sentenced to hard labor on Robben Island on June 13, 1964, where he was told "you will never touch a woman or a child again."

His second wife Winnie (powerful Naomie Harris) was incarcerated at various times during Mandela's life term, including sixteen months in solitary confinement that militarized her. Chadwick notes "this is her story too, because she kept his name alive."

Mandela was sentenced to a life of hard labor on Robben Island in 1964, where he was told "you will never touch a woman or a child again."

In the mid-80s, Prime Minister P.W. Botha arranged secret meetings with Mandela to help address South Africa's political and social chaos, which led to his release then to his role as the first freely-elected black President in 1994.

Blu-ray extras include director commentary; behind-the-scenes featurettes about production design, costumes and make-up, special effects, and music and sound; and "Mandela: The Leader You Know, The Man You Didn't" and "Tribute Video Gallery," which both feature remembrances about the man who embraced forgiveness and reconciliation, and died on December 5, 2013. Passionate tributes are given by Al Gore; journalists Dan Rather, Robin Roberts, and Tom Brokaw; musicians Sean Combs and John Legend; actors CCH Pounder, Angela Bassett, Whoopi Goldberg, Ben Vereen, Blair Underwood, and Richard Gere, who attended Mandela's Wembley Stadium tribute concert in 1988.

Brokaw characterizes Madiba as "empathetic but authoritative," and Rather says it was "impossible to be in his presence and not be inspired." He added Mandela's guiding light, "his north star, was freedom."

"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom"
Blu-ray/DVD combo pack

Louise Adams is a Chicago freelance writer at www.treefalls.com (and a nom de guerre).


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