Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (12A)

Film

Drama

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Elba as Nelson Mandela in ‘Long Walk to Freedom’

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Mon Nov 25 2013

There have been films about periods in Nelson Mandela’s life before (‘Invictus’, ‘Goodbye Bafana’), but this is the first to attempt the full story, the roots of which precede Mandela’s notorious 27-year imprisonment by decades. It’s an admirable aim – but there’s much missing from this overview of Mandela’s life, which travels in an unilluminating straight line from his circumcision at 16 to his election as president of South Africa age 75. It feels like a biblical gospel; hushed and reverential, always gearing up for the next big speech or moment. As a beginner’s guide to Mandela, it’s respectable; as cinema, it feels shackled by the greatness of its subject. Most curiously, it’s terrified of the very thing that defined him: politics.

William Nicholson’s script is adapted from Mandela’s own 1994 book, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, which was rich in detail over 630 pages. In turn ‘Mandela’, as directed by Justin Chadwick (‘The Other Boleyn Girl’), tears through the decades at lightning speed and leans on sweeping cameras, over-insistent music and a rag-bag of visual styles. It’s self-consciously epic and bathed in the soft glow of an endless magic hour. Idris Elba gives a bold performance as Mandela, but you can see history on his shoulders; as an older man, you can see the makeup too.

One of the few areas of Mandela’s life where the film dares to stick its neck out is in its portrayal of the separation of Nelson and Winnie (Naomie Harris) in the early 1990s (a topic on which Mandela himself was coy). The script reflects wider splits across South Africa in their disintegrating relationship, so turning the political into the personal in striking, concise fashion. Elsewhere, such inspiring interpretations are rare.

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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Jan 3, 2014

Duration:

146 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Justin Chadwick

Screenwriter:

William Nicholson

Cast:

Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Mark Elderkin

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:8
  • 4 star:11
  • 3 star:5
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|48
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MikeT

Well worth seeing, but I found it chopped and changed style, and jumped forwards and backwards in time. I learned a lot, but equally felt it wasn't very hard hitting - you got some idea of the awfulness of apartheid, but only vaguely - something about which SA still hangs its head in shame. Idris Elba is exceptional as Mandela. I really hope he wins and Oscar for his performance. Nonetheless, over all I'd give the film 3 stars.

MikeT

Well worth seeing, but I found it chopped and changed style, and jumped forwards and backwards in time. I learned a lot, but equally felt it wasn't very hard hitting - you got some idea of the awfulness of apartheid, but only vaguely - something about which SA still hangs its head in shame. Idris Elba is exceptional as Mandela. I really hope he wins and Oscar for his performance. Nonetheless, over all I'd give the film 3 stars.

Juan Carlos

As I expected many of the reviews below splash out 5 stars on what is a good but not great film. Political correctness gone mad. Where to start? Firstly the story is based upon Mandela's own autobiography so don't expect anything too controversial. It isn't a bad film it just drags and is in a number of places rather dull and little better than a tv movie. It feels more like an introduction to Mandela as it skips along never really fully exploring the reasons behind things or his actions rather than a definitive film of a great man. It needs to be better edited with half an hour taken off what we have and an extra hour of story. In a way I would compare this to Attenborough's Ghandi. It needs to be more epic and deep so you feel truly moved. Mandela is a great story in need of a better film. Three stars for me 7 out of 10.

Juan Carlos

As I expected many of the reviews below splash out 5 stars on what is a good but not great film. Political correctness gone mad. Where to start? Firstly the story is based upon Mandela's own autobiography so don't expect anything too controversial. It isn't a bad film it just drags and is in a number of places rather dull and little better than a tv movie. It feels more like an introduction to Mandela as it skips along never really fully exploring the reasons behind things or his actions rather than a definitive film of a great man. It needs to be better edited with half an hour taken off what we have and an extra hour of story. In a way I would compare this to Attenborough's Ghandi. It needs to be more epic and deep so you feel truly moved. Mandela is a great story in need of a better film. Three stars for me 7 out of 10.

chris jackson

as usual the critics get it wrong! this is a good film not a great one but it is well acted and of course is a great and truly inspiring story. at the end [part of the audience clapped , how often does that happen. Please go and see the film

chris jackson

as usual the critics get it wrong! this is a good film not a great one but it is well acted and of course is a great and truly inspiring story. at the end [part of the audience clapped , how often does that happen. Please go and see the film

Rosa Latham

A top-notch, first rate cast, led by the cream of Black, British talent, combine to produce a film of great significance and substance. It is a film driven by an uncompromising path for the viewer, not framed solely in political terms of reference, but rather dominated by the magnitude of the fortitude and spirit of a crusading leader, clearly forged in the heat of revolution; but a type of change battled for that we are certainly not familiar with towards the close of the twentieth century. I.e. what other country practised (and still practices) such an-all encompassing form of apartheid? The film's narrative enables everyone to perfectly relate to a life journey that only very few will find themselves in a position to grasp and act upon during that most pivotal point in history; when, with the steely tunnel vision Mandela had, it is apparent that a sliver of light shows a version of history containing an almost seemingly impossible trinity for the future - a South Africa led by Blacks, Asians and Caucasians. The context of the struggle puts the conflict into crystal clear perspective, illustrating what might, just might be achievable if apartheid was dismantled and what the stakes are if the road to freedom could not be navigated; as well as demonstrating that having the ability and foresight to make the right judgements during the darkest of the most calamitous of times - where hope exists in the form of a shepherd-come-attorney at law - can make all the difference. Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom seeks for the viewer to be awed by the vast change one man - in conjunction with all those that also courageously and dramatically fought - spearheaded and ultimately personally and professionally triumphed because of and through; via his determination to defeat a form of servitude and slavery conducted through the utilising of a fascist, nationalist and patriotic ideological framework. Following one man's entire life - and by willing association also the active participation of his family - lived in the prism of the shadow of this brutal, man-made system of inhumane and unnatural separation, this film, delivered from a highly passionate perspective, proves that there is a fine art to such a seemingly impossible task that one human being appears to have somehow known was his destiny, from a very young age. How many of us will ever have that clarity of vision during our lifetime? This film is an extremely powerful testament to the all-consuming governmental power structure and form of state terrorism that Mandela stated he would have led the fight against, and been willing to undertake the burden of destroying and suffering the truly dire personal consequences of, again and again and again and again.' To say this is a must-see film does not do it justice. In turn both moving and uplifting, this is a cinematic event the time for which had arrived and so very poignantly due to Mandela's passing. The only question to be posed was how to reach as wide an audience as possible: and the answer; to make the personal political - just as Mandela did throughout his entire life.

Rosa Latham

A top-notch, first rate cast, led by the cream of Black, British talent, combine to produce a film of great significance and substance. It is a film driven by an uncompromising path for the viewer, not framed solely in political terms of reference, but rather dominated by the magnitude of the fortitude and spirit of a crusading leader, clearly forged in the heat of revolution; but a type of change battled for that we are certainly not familiar with towards the close of the twentieth century. I.e. what other country practised (and still practices) such an-all encompassing form of apartheid? The film's narrative enables everyone to perfectly relate to a life journey that only very few will find themselves in a position to grasp and act upon during that most pivotal point in history; when, with the steely tunnel vision Mandela had, it is apparent that a sliver of light shows a version of history containing an almost seemingly impossible trinity for the future - a South Africa led by Blacks, Asians and Caucasians. The context of the struggle puts the conflict into crystal clear perspective, illustrating what might, just might be achievable if apartheid was dismantled and what the stakes are if the road to freedom could not be navigated; as well as demonstrating that having the ability and foresight to make the right judgements during the darkest of the most calamitous of times - where hope exists in the form of a shepherd-come-attorney at law - can make all the difference. Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom seeks for the viewer to be awed by the vast change one man - in conjunction with all those that also courageously and dramatically fought - spearheaded and ultimately personally and professionally triumphed because of and through; via his determination to defeat a form of servitude and slavery conducted through the utilising of a fascist, nationalist and patriotic ideological framework. Following one man's entire life - and by willing association also the active participation of his family - lived in the prism of the shadow of this brutal, man-made system of inhumane and unnatural separation, this film, delivered from a highly passionate perspective, proves that there is a fine art to such a seemingly impossible task that one human being appears to have somehow known was his destiny, from a very young age. How many of us will ever have that clarity of vision during our lifetime? This film is an extremely powerful testament to the all-consuming governmental power structure and form of state terrorism that Mandela stated he would have led the fight against, and been willing to undertake the burden of destroying and suffering the truly dire personal consequences of, again and again and again and again.' To say this is a must-see film does not do it justice. In turn both moving and uplifting, this is a cinematic event the time for which had arrived and so very poignantly due to Mandela's passing. The only question to be posed was how to reach as wide an audience as possible: and the answer; to make the personal political - just as Mandela did throughout his entire life.

Lesley Perry

Obviously expectations were high and the whole experience very poignant. We weren't let down. It was a great film for beginning to end - excellent story telling and a fantastic feeling.

Lesley Perry

Obviously expectations were high and the whole experience very poignant. We weren't let down. It was a great film for beginning to end - excellent story telling and a fantastic feeling.

Dace

outstanding!!!!! Cried all movie, tiers off sadness and anger as well as tiers of happiness. Very emotional movie!!! Must see!!!

Dace

outstanding!!!!! Cried all movie, tiers off sadness and anger as well as tiers of happiness. Very emotional movie!!! Must see!!!

Anita

Wonderful portrayal if Mandela's life. Brought tears to my eyes... Well done Idris Elba!

Anita

Wonderful portrayal if Mandela's life. Brought tears to my eyes... Well done Idris Elba!

Dave Stuart

Seldom can as film have had a more poignant link between subject and release date. Ostensibly a documentary of a heroic individual, actually its most powerful impact resides in the retelling of the inhumanity and racial injustice at the heart of apartheid South Africa. The timeline hammers out at pace and historic incidents whizz past in pretty compelling fashion but if one thing is missing, it is any real feel for why FC de Klerk eventually acceded to the justice of Mandela's position on freedom, equality and one man one vote. “He’s from a very Calvinist church” doesn’t feel like quite enough. While the civil turmoil in black South Africa is clearly apparent from the storyline, the coverage of the necklacing which frequently appeared in the western press at the time is thankfully not as graphic as it might have been. And Luther’s – sorry, Idris Elba’s South African accent waivers at times. Don't be fooled into thinking that racial slavery is a thing of the past, Mandela's message of equality without fear is every bit as relevant in these days of people trafficking, slave gangs and boat people. Use this historical wiki-fication of Mandela's life to spend 2.5 hours observing the passing of the single most important individual of our time.

Dave Stuart

Seldom can as film have had a more poignant link between subject and release date. Ostensibly a documentary of a heroic individual, actually its most powerful impact resides in the retelling of the inhumanity and racial injustice at the heart of apartheid South Africa. The timeline hammers out at pace and historic incidents whizz past in pretty compelling fashion but if one thing is missing, it is any real feel for why FC de Klerk eventually acceded to the justice of Mandela's position on freedom, equality and one man one vote. “He’s from a very Calvinist church” doesn’t feel like quite enough. While the civil turmoil in black South Africa is clearly apparent from the storyline, the coverage of the necklacing which frequently appeared in the western press at the time is thankfully not as graphic as it might have been. And Luther’s – sorry, Idris Elba’s South African accent waivers at times. Don't be fooled into thinking that racial slavery is a thing of the past, Mandela's message of equality without fear is every bit as relevant in these days of people trafficking, slave gangs and boat people. Use this historical wiki-fication of Mandela's life to spend 2.5 hours observing the passing of the single most important individual of our time.

Julie

How easily we forget. The news reel used in the film and the portrayal of the rise of the ANC was a reminder of how far we have come, but still have a long way to go. A film that should be shared with every one and that everyone should learn from. Emotional, powerful and thought provoking. It's frightening to think that what happened to Nelson Mandela and his people still happens in countries all over the world today. This is more than just a film it's a lesson in how we should live.

Julie

How easily we forget. The news reel used in the film and the portrayal of the rise of the ANC was a reminder of how far we have come, but still have a long way to go. A film that should be shared with every one and that everyone should learn from. Emotional, powerful and thought provoking. It's frightening to think that what happened to Nelson Mandela and his people still happens in countries all over the world today. This is more than just a film it's a lesson in how we should live.

David

Fantastic film and a real insight for someone that didn't know much about his life. Powerful and moving. Despite it's length I found myself gripped throughout.

David

Fantastic film and a real insight for someone that didn't know much about his life. Powerful and moving. Despite it's length I found myself gripped throughout.

Julie

I did enjoy this film, but it felt like that there was so much missing from it. It must have been a tough process to decide how to get Nelson Mandela's life story down to the length of a film, but I feel that there are some bits they could have been shortened or cut out to get more of the details in. I should have guessed from the film title, but I didn't realise that the film ended when he became president and would have liked to have seen a bit about how South Africa adapted to the new government, but maybe that is being saved for a sequel that follows the rest of his life. I do recommend that you go to see it, but I think you will left wishing you knew more.

Julie

I did enjoy this film, but it felt like that there was so much missing from it. It must have been a tough process to decide how to get Nelson Mandela's life story down to the length of a film, but I feel that there are some bits they could have been shortened or cut out to get more of the details in. I should have guessed from the film title, but I didn't realise that the film ended when he became president and would have liked to have seen a bit about how South Africa adapted to the new government, but maybe that is being saved for a sequel that follows the rest of his life. I do recommend that you go to see it, but I think you will left wishing you knew more.

Rowezeth

Loved the film very deep, very inspirational, wonderful made. Idris Elba played Mandela wonderfully, Mandela would be proud of him,

Rowezeth

Loved the film very deep, very inspirational, wonderful made. Idris Elba played Mandela wonderfully, Mandela would be proud of him,

Dave

Although the acting was good, the direction was pretty good this film is a bit like 'Mandela Lite' for me, although if you are not familiar with the struggles in South Africa and the treatment prisoners received on Robben Island then this a film well worth seeing. If however, you are expecting a strong politcal film, that really gets to grips with what Mandela and his fellow ANC members went through in prison and what life was like under aparthied then probably not the film for you. A lot of focus on his personal life without actually telling you anything, in my opinion let the film down, especially as there was a lot more that could have been included as far as his relationship with Winnie was concerned. An easy watch which devalues what actually happened in South Africa at the time but at least it will appeal to a wider audience which can only be a good thing.

Dave

Although the acting was good, the direction was pretty good this film is a bit like 'Mandela Lite' for me, although if you are not familiar with the struggles in South Africa and the treatment prisoners received on Robben Island then this a film well worth seeing. If however, you are expecting a strong politcal film, that really gets to grips with what Mandela and his fellow ANC members went through in prison and what life was like under aparthied then probably not the film for you. A lot of focus on his personal life without actually telling you anything, in my opinion let the film down, especially as there was a lot more that could have been included as far as his relationship with Winnie was concerned. An easy watch which devalues what actually happened in South Africa at the time but at least it will appeal to a wider audience which can only be a good thing.

Tricia Barnett

Understanding the man and his story is a basic but big ask for any film on Mandela. A Long Walk to Freedom does neither. It simply shows us a sequence of events in his life. At its best we begin to touch the story of Nelson and Winnie. At its worst it consigns into oblivion his ANC comrades and is woefully reductionist on the trial and the prison period. How did this man become this extraordinary leader? The acting is fine, but I recommend reading his book if you are now motivated to get more inside his head.

Tricia Barnett

Understanding the man and his story is a basic but big ask for any film on Mandela. A Long Walk to Freedom does neither. It simply shows us a sequence of events in his life. At its best we begin to touch the story of Nelson and Winnie. At its worst it consigns into oblivion his ANC comrades and is woefully reductionist on the trial and the prison period. How did this man become this extraordinary leader? The acting is fine, but I recommend reading his book if you are now motivated to get more inside his head.

Soraya

Very powerful film. Shame that there was so much emphasis on his love life as opposed to his great speeches and the historical value of what he achieved.

Soraya

Very powerful film. Shame that there was so much emphasis on his love life as opposed to his great speeches and the historical value of what he achieved.

CloM

I found this movie enlightening and moving, especially seeing it barely a week after Mandela died. I thought Idris Elba was brilliant in the lead role and really captured Mandela's mannerisms well, although Naomie Harris' Winnie Mandela accent was cringeworthy. I also found the movie to be a bit too long. If you dont know Mandela's story then this is a must-see- you learn a lot about his struggle before eventually becoming the leader we know him to be. There were a few people crying in the audience- I had a lump in my throat too because it's unbelievable the treatment him and many others endured, while fighting for equal treatment.

CloM

I found this movie enlightening and moving, especially seeing it barely a week after Mandela died. I thought Idris Elba was brilliant in the lead role and really captured Mandela's mannerisms well, although Naomie Harris' Winnie Mandela accent was cringeworthy. I also found the movie to be a bit too long. If you dont know Mandela's story then this is a must-see- you learn a lot about his struggle before eventually becoming the leader we know him to be. There were a few people crying in the audience- I had a lump in my throat too because it's unbelievable the treatment him and many others endured, while fighting for equal treatment.

karen

Great film about an inspirational man who changed his country and had a lasting impact on the whole world. This film focuses on the man himself rather than putting the politics or the history as the centre point. From a shared starting point the film contrasts how Nelson's and Winnie's experiences differed and how this affected their approach. Amazing film

karen

Great film about an inspirational man who changed his country and had a lasting impact on the whole world. This film focuses on the man himself rather than putting the politics or the history as the centre point. From a shared starting point the film contrasts how Nelson's and Winnie's experiences differed and how this affected their approach. Amazing film

Kailash

I was eagerly waiting to see this movie, and finally i got to see it using Time Out Card, Thanks Time out. Movie was good, acting, direction and casting were all well done. Only part i did not liked was its more dramatic part of his personal life, i mean his wife, second wife and their romantic and sex scenes. Instead, if the movie could have showed more about Mandela's work, his thoughts, speeches and social work. How he motivated and influenced people to gain and fight for Freedom. Mandela's message was not clearly portrayed. Poeple must see the movie Gandhi.

Kailash

I was eagerly waiting to see this movie, and finally i got to see it using Time Out Card, Thanks Time out. Movie was good, acting, direction and casting were all well done. Only part i did not liked was its more dramatic part of his personal life, i mean his wife, second wife and their romantic and sex scenes. Instead, if the movie could have showed more about Mandela's work, his thoughts, speeches and social work. How he motivated and influenced people to gain and fight for Freedom. Mandela's message was not clearly portrayed. Poeple must see the movie Gandhi.

Chloe

I found this movie enlightening and moving, especially seeing it barely a week after Mandela died. I thought Idris Elba was brilliant in the lead role and really captured Mandela's mannerisms well, although Naomie Harris' Winnie Mandela accent was cringeworthy (I can say that as I'm South African!)

Chloe

I found this movie enlightening and moving, especially seeing it barely a week after Mandela died. I thought Idris Elba was brilliant in the lead role and really captured Mandela's mannerisms well, although Naomie Harris' Winnie Mandela accent was cringeworthy (I can say that as I'm South African!)