Cultural Consumption: Task 18

Read a review

I have wanted to watch ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ for a while now. I had heard lots of discussion about it and so decided to read a review:

I read a review from The Independent (see here). The review is not what I expected, having heard mostly positive comments, I did not expect the review to be so critical of screenwriter William Nicholson.

The review remarks that it seems unsatisfying to watch such the life of such an important figure reduced to a 2.5 hour drama, and that it places too much emphasis on Mandela’s regrets in life, rather than his world-changing victories for human rights.

The review does however praise the performances of Idris Elba (of whom I am a big fan) who is said to provide the emotional complexity of Mandela, and Naomie Harris who plays his troubled wife: Winnie. I had watched an interview with Harris, on The Jonathan Ross Show at the beginning of January which is what sparked my interest in the film. She mentioned how she spent a lot of time with Winnie in real life, which she found very intimidation, because she was unsure of Winnie’s opinion on how she is portrayed. The independent mentions the way she is shown throughout the film:

The film-makers don’t skimp from showing how the marriage disintegrated during Mandela’s captivity. Whereas he was eventually prepared to negotiate with the white apartheid Government, she felt an utter hatred for them and an understandable determination to use violence to bring it down. Chadwick includes harrowing scenes of her own imprisonment and her many months in solitary confinement. He also shows her supporters “necklacing” a suspected informer – that’s to say, placing a rubber tyre round the victim’s neck and then setting fire to it. “What they have done to my wife is their only victory over me,” Mandela declares at one point.


Despite the Independent’s mixed review acclaiming the film as ‘a moving but very uneven journey’, I plan to see the film at some point over the next week, as it definitely appears to be an important film, in terms of commemorating Mandela’s recent death. I am interested to make up my own mind on the screenwriting.



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