|The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:|
|Original title:||Mandela – Long walk to freedom|
|Production country:||USA 2013|
|Running time:||Ca. 147 min.|
|Rated:||From 12 years|
He was the embodiment of the anti-apartheid movement and a symbol of peace: Nelson Mandela, who died at the beginning of December, was an important and influential man not only for his country, but for world politics as a whole. He has shown the world how strong peaceful resistance can be and that human will can overcome much when forgiveness triumphs over revenge. Based on Mandela's autobiography, director Justin Chadwick ("The Queen's Sister") has staged the rousing portrait of a great man.
"Mandela - The Long Way to Freedom" not only traces his resistance, which began when Mandela (Idris Elba) fought for the rights of all blacks as a young lawyer in Johannesburg. But this fight seems to be hopeless. When Mandela became increasingly involved in the African National Congress ANC and demonstrated his great rhetorical talent, he quickly became the hope of the civil rights movement. But when he can no longer maintain his renunciation of violence and he goes underground with some henchmen, he becomes a dangerous terrorist for the authorities. In 1963 he finally ended up in prison with six of his comrades-in-arms, where no attempt was made to break the will of the men. But that doesn't succeed - and three decades later Nelson Mandela will finally write history after his release…
"Mandela - The Long Road to Freedom" concentrates for long stretches less on Mandela's political engagement than on the private side of his life, even if this can be less and less separated from each other in the course of time. Justin Chadwick is obviously anxious to set a cinematic monument to the human being Nelson Mandela and not to the symbolic figure he has become, while once again making clear what he has suffered for his ideals and what great legacy he leaves to the world. These are high ambitions, which at least the leading actor Idris Elba ("Luther") absolutely lives up to. His portrayal of this larger-than-life figure is simply magnificent. Elba manages perfectly to capture the various nuances of Mandela and to reproduce them in such a way that they don't seem played, but feel really lived.
Also the other actors, above all Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela, deliver performances that are beyond all doubt. It's mainly the actors who make for some very intense and stirring moments in the movie. Unfortunately, the staging itself cannot quite keep up. The whole thing seems too much like a conventional biopic, which at times comes along a bit smooth and with its somewhat too intrusive film music wants to create an exaggerated sentimentality, which the film wouldn't have needed at all. Because the biography of Nelson Mandela and the history of his country are moving enough to require such musical support.
In the last third Chadwick can't prevent some lengths from arising and one has the feeling that a cut of half an hour would have done the film very good. No question about it, "Mandela - The Long Way to Freedom" is a good, at times even very good film with lots of gripping goose bumps and great actor performances. But it just didn't become the outstanding movie that it could have been because of the story. And so it is primarily Idris Elba who leaves a lasting impression - something one would have wished for the rest of this biopic. Nevertheless, the bottom line is quite clear: worth seeing!
An article by Frankfurt-Tipp