Monday, December 30, 2013

Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom - An Inspiring Tribute

Nelson Mandela lived 95 long years.  Amazing.  He blessed us in so many courageous ways.  When I sit and think--really think about his vision, his sacrifices, his strength and his unwavering commitment to humanity, it leaves me speechless.  And after seeing the movie, Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom, all I could do was shake my head in disbelief. This really happened.  

The story of Nelson Mandela.... Whew.  A few months ago, I said to a friend, "How in the world does someone tell THAT story?"  So many layers. Decades of history.  Political control.  Cultural relevance. Apartheid.  Legacy.  Pain and heartache.  What an undertaking!    

William Nicholson's (the film's screenwriter) and Justin Chadwick's (director) interpretation of Nelson Mandela's life is uncomplicated and moving.  This film is the reason why movies should be made: To tell stories that entertain, agitate, educate and make you think.  I'm still thinking about this movie...    

Idris Elba as Mandela.  My goodness.  His portrayal is so captivating that it demands your undivided attention.  The movie begins with Mandela in his 20's.  He transforms from a charming ladies man to a husband and father, who eventually makes mistakes.  Mandela's anger over a friend's death ignites his fire to fight for equality.  That commitment changes his life, everyone who loves him and the future of a country.  Idris physically changes throughout the movie to age 75, but his presence remains strong and dignified until the end.  A commanding performance. An award worthy performance. 

The movie also depicts Winnie Mandela's struggle. Mandela loves his Winnie.  And she loves him, but more poignantly, she believes in him and his vision.  She continues to fight with him, for him and the people of South Africa for 27 years.  Her spirit is fiery and her strength is undeniable, but when she and Nelson touch each other for the first time in 21 years, she is simply....a woman in love.  It is the most heart-rending scene in the movie. Naomie Harris (who played Winnie Mandela) showed up, rolled up her sleeves and gave this role her everything.  Beyond impressive.
Idis Elba and Naomie Harris as Nelson and Winnie Mandela.
I grew up knowing Nelson Mandela was a hero of our times.  After seeing the film, I still believe he is.  But now, I realize he was a man with a fearless drive to do the right thing. He was a man who was passionate about humanity and forgiveness. A man who taught the world so many valuable lessons.  An example of love.  A champion of the people.  A great man.  

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