BougieMom, BougieSis and I headed out the day after Christmas to see A Long Walk to Freedom, the highly touted bio-pic on Nelson Mandela. Five stars, all the way around. Visually rich, evoking both poignancy and pride, the film provides a fresh and in depth measure of a man who altered the course of history. It was brilliantly cast and lovingly filmed. Here are three things I loved about it:
1. All the Idris. There's a pivotal scene where he got out of a car asking, "Somebody want me?" and I held myself back from raising my hand in a fervent affirmative. Moving on... Beyond the fine (and there's just so much fine) and perhaps more important than the fine is all the brilliance. Though I would not have believed it to be true, there came a time in the movie where all I saw was Mandela. Not Idris as Mandela but Mandela. He morphed in the man. I've seen Idris in a lot of film and television, this is his triumph. Oscar needs to come a-calling.
2. Winnie's struggles. I've been oft-irritated by the media's need to footnote Winnie Mandela as Nelson's ex-wife and whittle her role in his life down to a footnote. In this film we are able to see that Winnie was as much terrorized and imprisoned for 27 years as he was. In different ways but persecuted just the same. It's patently unfair and illogical not to relegate her into less than what she is. A strong woman, flawed but gifted and incredibly resilient and intelligent.
3. Mandela's humanity. Too many times when a man does heroic deeds, he is whitewashed as perfect. As though he is just the hero and not the sum of everything else that makes him uniquely him. However, this film allows you to see that Madiba was but a man with imperfections, vanity and ego. He did extraordinary things and made immeasurable change in the world. This movie allows you to celebrate the accomplishments while keeping it real. He was kind of a player. He wasn't above violence. There was some vanity there. None of that detracts from his legacy, just gives you additional flavor. I liked seeing it.
The movie moves smartly through Mandela's life rarely getting weighed down in one segment. If you feel like parts were skipped, imagine how long the movie would have had to run to get it all in there. There are, as you can imagine, moments that hit you in the gut and take your breath away at the unfairness of it all. There are lightbulb moments where you clearly understand the motivation and there are things that make you go hmmm. Less than a decade free and the South Africans elected a black president almost fifteen years before the US? Don't get me started...
Go see the movie. It's amazing. Enjoy. Who has seen it already? What did you think?