Film Review: Mandela: The Long Walk

Wembley is proud to share two notable moments in Nelson Mandela’s life. The first, a 70th birthday tribute, held on June 11th, 1988 at Wembley Stadium

With Nelson Mandela’s release in sight, he requested that a second event also take place at Wembley. “An International Tribute for a Free South Africa” was held on April 16th, 1990. Both events were broadcast to over 60 countries.

Earlier in 2013 he was awarded the freedom of the Borough on behalf of Brent residents. Later that year, news of his death was announced on December 5th, at the London premier of this film.

Mandela: The Long Walk, is a sensible depiction of the South African former president’s life.

Director Justin Chadwick takes on the tough role of unraveling Mandela’s milestones. It begins with the local lawyer, to rendezvous with the ANC and their protests against apartheid. From his life sentence in prison, to being released on his terms and taking leadership of South Africa.

A glimpse is given into Winnie Mandela’s story, how they met, unwillingly separate, reunite and willingly separate. Although brisk, it does show the ordeal Winnie faced, raising their children alone and the unimaginable trauma of being snatched away from them and sent to solitary confinement. The movie takes it up a notch after her release, understandably consumed with hate contrasted later by Mandela’s act of forgiveness.

The performance by Idris Elba as Mandela worked well. I must admit at first despite his repertoire (The Wire, Luther), I had low expectations about him in this role. Surprisingly, even though Idris does not resemble Mandela, his performance was nonetheless convincing. He mastered the distinct oratory and in addition added his own man-of-the-moment trademark style to the performance.

The detail squeezed into Long Walk helps to give an overview of Mandela’s extraordinary life. A look into his past as a casanova and the fatuous rule about long trousers he challenged whilst in prison.

Obviously, trying to make a movie that can do justice to Mandela’s life is difficult to cover in over 2hrs of film. The Long Walk is more like a long wormhole, where viewers are teleported from one significant event in time to the next.

I watched this film at Wembley Cineworld next to the stadium that played a part in Mandela’s legacy and for the keen-eyed, footage appears from the 1988 pop-concert. I found The Long Walk to be human, insightful and honourable.

Want to see Mandela: The Long Walk next to the Stadium? HOW DO I GET THERE?

Photos from both Nelson Mandela events at Wembley Stadium.