Director: Justin Chadwick
Writers: William Nicholson
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” is one of those movies that makes you feel guilty because you feel that you should like it, but you don’t. Based on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, this biopic shows Nelson Mandela from his days as a lawyer up to being elected president of South Africa in 1994.
Nelson Mandela was a great man, and frankly he didn’t deserve this mediocre treatment of his life. While Idris Elba does his best to sell the role of Mandela, and he does a respectable job, various events are glossed over. For example, very little background is given to describe what was so bad about apartheid, or even what apartheid was (while it did amount to suppression of the black population, the actual answer is rather complex). For the most part, the film mostly says “Black good, white bad,” with a few exceptions. It’s a simplistic treatment of a complicated political era, especially as apartheid was ending.
The editing is another annoying aspect of this film. The film jumps around and shows parts of a tribal ritual with little to no context. The cinematography and editing giving the film a very stylized look, especially in the beginning. But it feels out of place. Stylizing the story of such a remarkable human being feels unnecessary and at time even disrespectful.
This is one of those films that you go into really wanting to like it, but you feel hard pressed to do so. It takes an effort to find things to like or truly commend the filmmakers for, and ultimate, this movie is a major disappointment.
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” earns 2 out of 5 stars.