Idris Elba Is Ideal Mandela In 'A Long Walk to Freedom'

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Atim p'Oyat shown with Harvey Weinstein


On Thursday, Black Star News writer Atim p'Oyat joined hundreds of high school students who jam-packed Sunset Boulevard’s Harmony Gold Screening Room for a prescreening of “Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom” which was sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and The Weinstein Company, the film's producer. Here's her review:

As they entered many of these students seemed somewhat detached from the screening itself as many didn’t know what they were about to watch.

Some admitted their unawareness of Mandela’s existence but eagerly expressed their gratitude to Weinstein for understanding the importance of visual learning. In the end, many were moved by Mandela’s story.

The screening was followed by a Q & A panel with film producer Harvey Weinstein and AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Over the years, Nelson Mandela, who is most eminent for leading the successful overthrow of South Africa’s National Party, which presided over the apartheid regime, has been depicted in cinema by the likes of Sidney Poitier, Dennis Haysbert, and Morgan Freeman.

Now it is Idris Elba’s turn. Don’t expect to see just another Mandela movie. Though written by screenwriter William Nicholson, the historical events presented in this film come straight from Mandela’s autobiography which holds the same title. By chronologically highlighting the failures and triumphs of his life, “Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom” brings a strong message of hope, equality, and peace to an age where freedom of speech is diminishing and unsubstantiated government forces are once again on the rise.

According to Weinstein, Elba was given a warm review by Mandela who believed his portrayal was an accurate embodiment. Though Elba doesn’t resemble Mandela at the least bit, his clear-cut representation of Mandela’s resilience, strength, and charm makes him the ideal actor for this role.

Winnie Mandela, whose relevance to the National Party’s dismantling is often forgotten, is depicted in this film by Naomie Harris. As Nelson’s wife, Winnie suffered severe persecution and was jailed herself on a number of occasions for her resistance. This film does a great job in addressing the potential outcome of unnurtured marriages. Though Nelson and Winnie fell in love in virtue of their harmonious social and political ideals, during his 27 years of imprisonment their independent vision for the African National Congress became discordant, and ultimately led to their divorce.

“The hardest part about making the movie was going to the exact location where the events took place. We shot the entire movie in South Africa,” said Harvey Weinstein.

When asked why he believed this story needed to be told again he simply stated, “Thursday nights.” During one of his first visits to the United States, Mandela found himself in a room with several elites and he spoke of his newly won freedom. Mandela revealed that he was especially thankful for those in the entertainment industry. During his incarceration, Thursday nights was movie nights and marked the only glimpse of a free world Mandela had behind bars.

“Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom” is a must see. The film offers several lessons. Primarily, that unbalanced power on any spectrum is detrimental to all of humanity. Nelson Mandela, who is now 95 years of age and in tender health, is an excellent example of how one voice can impact an entire world. Throughout his life he has encouraged many to live without fear and hatred and to take a stance on political matters.

Zindzi, Mandela’s daughter, recently told USA Today at the Hollywood premiere that the Mandela family gives this film a hundred percent endorsement. Though this film is not officially open in theaters until November 29th, for educational purposes Share My Lesson, in affiliation with AFT and The Weinstein Company, provides lengthy clips on its website.

Title: “Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom”

Director: Justin Chadwick

Writer: William Nicholson (screenplay)


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