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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom(2013)
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.
For more about Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Blu-ray release, see Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 18, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Fana Mokoena, Deon Lotz
Director: Justin Chadwick
» See full cast & crew
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 18, 2014
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin. People learn to hate. They can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart.
This is a story of repression and violence, unjust laws and just struggles, imprisonment and freedom for a people and personified in one man's fight for equality by any means necessary. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom tells the story of the late Nelson Mandela, the man who was for most of the entire second-half of the 20th century the face of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement. Jailed for leading a violent revolt against the governing system but spared a death sentence in the name of "temper[ing] justice with mercy," Mandela's imprisonment only served to further spread the call for freedom and desegregation for South Africa's black population. The film is captivating and gripping, heartbreaking yet moving, violent yet understandably so. It's dominated by a powerhouse performance from Idris Elba as the title character and told with a keen understanding of narrative flow, historical importance, and entertainment value all rolled into one. Elba's performance was snubbed a Best Actor Oscar nomination, and the film deserved serious consideration to be listed amongst the year's nominees for Best Picture.
A young Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) is a South African attorney but faces his own brand of prosecution when he's mocked and discredited for the color of his skin, even in the court of law in which he practices. His nation is heavily segregated; its black population is forcibly kept down by a white-controlled government. By 1948, the nation had fallen under total white supremacist control. One day, Mandela joins an anti-government protest and quickly ascends in the resistance's ranks. When peaceful demonstrations and cries for equality fall on deaf ears and closed hearts, he leads an effort to violently sabotage government interests. Though it breaks his family, he speaks out against a number of injustices, not the least of which is his people's lack of voice in the political hierarchy and their forced submission to live under laws harmful to their welfare and human rights. Mandela's role in the resistance's violence sees him sentenced to life in prison, pulling him away from wife Winnie (Naomie Harris). Inside prison, Mandela and his cohorts are badly mistreated while the revolution continues outside the prison walls, a revolution in which Mandela has become a central figure in an increasingly violent struggle for power and equality.
The unmistakable cores of this story revolve around a man's dedication to freedom for his people and the violent means which sometimes justify an end goal of peace and equality for all. Never does Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom shy away from depicting the use of violence as a tool in the fight for equality. Yet it doesn't necessarily condone violence and it most certainly doesn't glamorize violence. Mandela himself, as the movie depicts, sought peace and equality but understood the need for violence to battle violence in the name of goodness and a just cause in the process of overpowering oppressors who rule over a group of people they treat as second-class citizens. It was Thomas Jefferson who once said "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." That's at the center of the story, violence for the cause of liberty rather than violence for the cause of oppression. In the film, Mandela states that he fights against the government's "repressive legislation and fewer and fewer rights" granted to South Africa's black population. Theirs was a slow enslavement in Mandela's time in which the people were held in metaphorical chains rather than literal chains, but certainly very real bondage in terms of exclusion, separation, and no say in their lives without resorting to violent measures for only the courtesy of being heard and treated equally under the law. The film doesn't ignore the gray area between right and wrong, between nonviolent revolt and violent repression, or between unlawful activity in the face of unlawful acts made lawful without a people's consent. It offers a compelling testimonial of violent rebellion in the name of freedom and Mandela's personal suffering at the hands of the very system he fought to topple both outside and inside prison walls.
That tightrope march through Mandela's preference for peace but understanding of violence isn't reflected in the film's cadence. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom moves at a rapid-fire pace through decades of history but never feels too terribly compact, though certainly it glosses over elements here and there in the name of maintaining a manageable runtime. The film's pacing helps solidify the urgency with which Mandela and his people fight, but at the same time it sufficiently captures the strain of his lengthy imprisonment that sees him outwardly age but maintain his inward spirit of determination for and dedication to his cause. Director Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) shapes the movie with a riveting blend of procedural biopic and historical drama pieces but invigorates the movie with that quickly marching cadence that builds tension and character both while plowing through Mandela's life highlights. The film capably entertains while it covers its historical grounds, stirring emotions but never becoming so detached as to dryly recount facts rather than sprinkle them with a life force that's largely given shape by Actor Idris Elba's knockout performance.
Indeed, the actor finds a soul within the character and a commanding screen presence that both set the performance apart. Elba's imposing physical stature lends a further feel of gravity to the character, and Elba maintains a stature of confidence in ideals and belief in purpose from start to finish. The performance is supported by quality aging makeup in the later stages but feels only like a formality; Elba inhabits the character with the sort of intimate understanding of outward stature and inward principles that define the best historical figure performances. In essence, he's a rock in a turbulent world, capturing a command of emotions, a steadfast spirit, and a settled soul that certainly conflicts amongst itself between the yearning for peace and the need for violence but that has come to terms with both reality and the proper way to deal with reality at any given point in time, considering any number of circumstances, and settling on what's right both in the moment and for his people's future. The film sees no poor performance elsewhere, but Elba dominates the film like few actors are capable and, even beyond the gripping story and fast-paced structure, is the primary reason the film finds a high level of success.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Blu-ray, Video Quality
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom looks terrific on Blu-ray. Anchor Bay's high definition presentation produces a beautiful film-like texture, supported by a consistent and attractive grain structure. Details are precise and sharp throughout. From complex facial textures to worn building façades, from intricately stitched clothing to brick, every surface shows a very well defined structure that showcases what Blu-ray is all about. Colors are equally enjoyable. The palette is robust and rich, lively but balanced. All variety of clothing, earthen backdrops, well-appointed courtrooms, and well-worn dwellings take on a natural, enjoyable coloring. Black levels are deep and not at all absorbing of detail or, on the other end of the spectrum, excessively bright. Skin tones don't appear to betray natural shading, though the scrutiny of high definition does reveal the occasional makeup line on an aged Idris Elba. The transfer shows no signs of wear or unwanted anomalies. This is a powerhouse transfer from Anchor Bay.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom features an excellent and engaging DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Musical delivery is precise and robust, effortlessly filling, and fully immersive. Clarity ranks highly, and the low end balances the presentation. Ambient sound effects are richly immersive and effortlessly delivered. Whether din on the streets of Johannesburg, light blowing winds and rustling grasses, driving rain, angry chants, automobiles pushing through the back, or airplanes zipping about the stage, Anchor Bay's track always places the listener in the middle of the film's most critical scenes. Gunfire pops with strong authority, adding to the sense of terror created in chapter six. An explosion or two also deliver a full, potent sensation. Dialogue plays clearly and accurately from the center. This is an excellent all-around track that handles everything from the most subtle ambient effect to the most aggressive chants and gunfire equally well.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom contains an absorbing array of bonus content. DVD and UV digital copies are included in the case.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom doesn't paint its title character as a saint but instead a man dedicated to a cause for which he was prepared to sacrifice everything in the name of freedom from oppression. The picture moves quickly, proves both dramatically engaging and skillfully entertaining, and is solidified by a powerhouse performance from Idris Elba as the title character. It's not so thorough as the autobiography on which it's based, but Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom nevertheless tells a full, compelling tale of one man's steadfastness in the face of incredible government, military, and popular opposition. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom features excellent video and audio presentations. Supplements are satisfying in both number and content. Highly recommended.
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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: March 18-25 - March 16, 2014
For the week of March 18th, Sony Home Entertainment is bringing David O. Russell's acclaimed American Hustle to Blu-ray. Other Tuesday titles include Disney's Saving Mr. Banks, the Academy Award-winning Frozen, and the Weinstein Company's Mandela: Long Walk to ...
• Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Blu-ray - Exclusive Giveaway - March 12, 2014
Blu-ray.com, The Weinstein Company and Anchor Bay Entertainment are offering three members the opportunity to win a copy of director Justin Chadwick's Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Golden Globe Best Performance nominee Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and ...
• Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Blu-ray - January 28, 2014
The Weinstein Company and Anchor Bay Entertainment have officially announced the Blu-ray release of director Justin Chadwick's Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Golden Globe Best Performance nominee Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris as his wife, ...
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