Mandela Long Walk To Freedom DVD Review

DVD Review by Jon E Clist
Mandela: Long Road to Freedom

The Premise
A chronicle of Nelson Mandela's life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

The Review
It is hard to know where to begin with a film like Long Road to Freedom. Most of us know elements of the life of Nelson Mandela and yet unless you have done the study or read the biographies then you are unlikely to know much of the man really well. Perhaps few people on this planet could truly say that they knew the man intimately and yet he is one of the most known men internationally. Here we have one film company/directors interpretation of moments in the life of Mandela.

Although they cover the key big moments, they have not addressed the times in his life that would have truly shaped then man and how he approached things. Mandela spent 10 years as the adopted son of a king to the Thembu clan, and developed a close and lasting bond to the king's family. Mandela arrived in the village at age nine to be a ward of Thembu King Djokintaba after losing his father in the nearby village of Qunu. He was known for always being serious, having the look of a leader and growing close to the king through his special chore of ironing all his robes. Being adopted into royalty would have played a large part in instilling into Mandela the grace and nature that made him such an inspiring leader.

I understand that with the film already coming in at over two hours, it is impossible to include everything. However for the sake of five minutes to share this moment of historical importance as a part of the journey. However the rest of the film is excellent. The film makers have done a great job of telling the story of a man who had his flaws and yet rose above them to achieve something rather incredible. At the beginning of the film we see a man who believes change can come about with words, and yet changes to become a man of action. There is no doubt that Mandela was involved with acts of violence and maybe even death in his fight against the racist régime of Apartheid and yet hard things needed to be done in order to bring about change. However as he got older, and freedom came back into his life he knew that the only way to truly move forward was to put down the gun and be peaceful. This comes across brilliantly in several key moments of the film that will move you.

This is a film that is important for the world to see just how change can come. Even Mandela’s family obviously believed it was of the highest priority. During the film's London premiere, sisters Zindzi Mandela and Zenani Mandela, who were in the audience, were notified by cell phone of the news that their father Nelson Mandela had just died. When asked whether they'd like the screening to be postponed, they insisted that the premiere go ahead as planned. The sad news, however, was not shared with the rest of the attendees who sat through the screening unaware of Mandela's passing. It wasn't until after the credits rolled at the end of the film that co-producer Anant Singh took the stage to break the news to the audience. The auditorium lapsed into a 2-minute silence as a gesture of respect.

There were plenty of moments in the film that I really connected with and felt extremely moved by. However there is also a splattering of violence, bad language and sexual content that could make this film slightly upsetting to the soft in heart. I will say that both Idris Elba and Naomie Harris do an outstanding job of bringing these famous characters form history onto the big screen with power and grace in equal measure.

The Verdict
A well-balanced look into the life of a great man whose story inspired a nation to change its DNA.

The Trailer

The Info
DVD Releases: 11th June 2014
Rating: M - Contains violence & offensive language
Duration: 147 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Terry Pheto.
Director: Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl, The First Grader)

RRP: DVD $39.99 Blu-Ray $44.99

The Extras
Main stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris have the same birthday. Both were born on September 6th, although Elba was born in 1972 and Harris in 1976.