It’s unsure whether it was chance, timing, or simply fate that made the Justin Chadwick movie come out so shortly after Nelson Mandela’s death. What’s certain though, is that it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Those who wished to celebrate his life could do so; and those who didn’t know anything about him could take a crash course in South African history.
Based on Mandela’s eponymous autobiography, the movie follows young Nelson (Idris Elba) as he grows from a young non-political lawyer who likes girls and parties, to a man who sees the suffering his people are going through and decides it’s time to change. And that one man is never enough.
The movie brilliantly depicts the changes within Mandela: joining the ANC and promoting a non-violent approach to changing the law, then having to embrace violence because there is no other way to be seen and heard; his often difficult relationships with wives and children; and finally his 27 years of imprisonment.
And while Mandela was willing to die for his ideals and beliefs, he brilliantly managed to listen to both sides and to try and unify this country he loved so much when becoming president.
Idris Elba, beloved British actor, spent months learning Mandela’s accents and mannerisms. He also inspired himself from his father, whom he often associated with an example to follow. Naomie Harris (known for Pirates of the Caribbean – you’ll recognise the accent before the face) plays a powerful and sometimes scary Winnie.
If you’re still unsure about whether you’d like to sit through someone’s entire life, I’m leaving you with this quote, taken from Mandela’s original memoir and used in the movie:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Pictures from: femalefirst.co.uk, abiggersociety.com, bijou-cinema.com