NAIMA LETT – BLOG – HOLLYWOOD CHRISTIAN
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
PHOTO above: © Mandela:Long Walk to Freedom starring Idris Elba
It’s That Time
It’s that time of year again, Fam! The Holidays kick off Award Season here in the LaLa, which means screenings galore of all the films scurrying to create lanes in our annual awards race.
Last year, I screened 22 films in 30 days and reviewed 8 of the best for you. I also came to the conclusion and wrote that Our Award Films Need More Hope. You’ve been asking about this year’s films. So, let’s jump back to our reviews with a film that has hope for sure. Here we go!
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Former South African president Nelson Mandela passed yesterday at the age of 95, and many are celebrating his life through his biopic movie, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
The film, which premiered in England yesterday and the US over Thanksgiving, has already broken records for the highest grossing film in South African history. Reportedly, many South Africans took the day off to see the film when it was released there last week.
The official synopsis simply reads: MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is based on South African President Nelson Mandela’s autobiography of the same name, which chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country’s once segregated society.
Golden Globe® winner Idris Elba, 41, (Luther, The Wire, Thor), who is excellent as Mandela, leads the stellar cast of British and South African actors including Naomie Harris, 37, (Pirates of the Caribbean II & III, Skyfall) as Winnie Mandela. Costing $35 million, the film is distributed by the Weinstein Company.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” That’s one of my favorite Mandela quotes. It reminds me of a scripture I quote often, “For nothing will be impossible with God,” Luke 1:37.
Seeing the impossible manifested in our day to day lives gives us hope. And Mandela’s life was full of impossibilities. How did he survive 27 years in prison? Some reading this post are barely 27 years old. That’s your whole life! How did he become the first black president of South Africa, a country that practiced apartheid and segregation until the early 90s, officially ending in 1994 with their first multiracial election resulting in Mandela’s presidency? How did he navigate the realization that the brutal effects of 27 years in prison and abuse can dismantle even the best of marriages? Mandela’s life is far from perfect, but watching his journey gives us hope that we can survive the worst of circumstances.
The biggest challenge of any biopic, but especially this one, is timing. How does one squeeze 72 years of a person’s life, 27 of which were spent in prison, into a movie that’s only 2 hours and 19 minutes?
Critic reviews vary based on each one’s opinion of the events chosen to highlight in the film. It seems to me that the filmmakers rightly assume that we, the audience, already know the “gist” of the story, so they don’t belabor too many situations. They hit the highlights and move on… quickly. It’s a whirlwind, folks. Hang on! This is the version with Idris Elba, not Morgan Freeman or Sidney Poitier. The violence is real. The situations raw.
One Caution, Maybe Two
That brings us to the MPAA rating. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is rated PG-13 for “some intense sequences of violence and disturbing images, sexual content and brief strong language.”
As much as parents may want to use this film to share a slice of history, the violence, language and suggestive content is not for young children. Please watch the trailer and take the PG-13 seriously.
And though the film gives us hope, it’s not a faith-based film. It’s a biopic. Expect all the dicey details of fallen life. It’s often reported that Mandela was Christian, however, this film does not showcase that element. It touches on early years of angst against a God who could allow such horrible racial injustices.
We do however know that in his life, Mandela championed forgiveness and reconciliation. A quote that is posted often is, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Mandela called a nation and world to forgiveness, which is definitely Christ-like.
If you plan on seeing a film this weekend, check out Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. I saw it a couple of weeks ago with one of my girlfriends, and we were so moved. She even engaged others as we were leaving, and we stood outside the theater talking and talking. It’s because Mandela’s life is one worth talking about. It’s one worth celebrating.
Have you seen Mandela yet? Do you plan to see it? What do you think?
Onward & Upward in the LaLa,
Rev. Naima Lett, D.MIN, ABD
The Hollywood Christian®
Author of coming release Confessions of a Hollywood Christian®
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