Joining the cinematic surge of black-themed cinema, "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" is a biopic based on Nelson Mandela's autobiography. It follows him from a childhood steeped in African tradition to his career as an activist attorney, freedom fighter, political prisoner and the first president of a democratic South Africa.

Idris Elba (who has appeared in those flicks about another superhero, Thor) convincingly portrays the anti-apartheid leader through the decades, as he goes underground and leads a campaign of sabotage and armed resistance against the white supremacists.

As Winnie Mandela, actress Naomie Harris likewise realistically ages throughout the film; both actors' flesh seem to have actual wrinkles. The couple's forced separation and the viciousness of the racist regime takes its toll on their marriage and seems to drive Winnie around the proverbial bend.

Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela

Actor Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela.

This film is extremely enjoyable, with lots of stand-up-and-cheer moments, and great performances all around. But once Nelson is released from prison the movie's politics take a questionable turn.

In "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," Winnie's militancy seems due to madness, while the noble Nelson strives for a nonviolent resolution of South Africa's deepening crisis. Except for the "necklacing" of informers, blacks are mostly shown killing other blacks, without any context or explanation, while Africans are never shown killing their white oppressors.

Much like the depiction of Mandela in Clint Eastwood's 2009 "Invictus," this biopic places significant focus on how he ultimately became an emblem of brotherly love who turned his back on armed struggle. This might explain why South Africa dismantled the apparatus of apartheid, but did not accomplish Mandela's dream of economic justice through wealth redistribution, which has left much of the old white power structure still riding in the economic saddle.

In any case, "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" does a faithful job in relaying to audiences exactly what the cost of freedom is. And that's no small feat.

Watch the trailer:


Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.


Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project