Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Nelson Mandela deserves a great movie. This isn't it.
What parents need to know
Positive role models
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a biopic about the South African leader Nelson Mandela, and includes some disturbing violence. We see riots in the streets, with military shooting citizens, people being set on fire, and wounded, bleeding children. Winnie Mandela is handled roughly, abducted, thrown into prison, slapped around and generally mistreated. Nelson kisses and has sex with three women, two of whom he marries, though no nudity of any kind is shown. There's some rare language including a brief use of "f--k" and one use of "s--t." Long Walk to Freedom is not a very well-made movie, but teens may be inspired by it to look further into Mandela's remarkable life. I
What's the story?
The story begins with Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) in his twenties, practicing law in Johannesburg, South Africa. He meets and marries his first wife, and eventually divorces her. He becomes directly involved in the fight against apartheid, becomes a leader, and eventually turns to violence. Meanwhile, he meets and marries Winnie (Naomie Harris), who would eventually become a national figure herself. But in 1962, Mandela's organization, the African National Congress, is declared a terrorist group, and he is arrested. Given a life sentence, he serves 27 years before being released in 1992. Still fighting for freedom, he runs for president and wins in 1994, wherein he begins using his influence to end apartheid.
Is it any good?
Nelson Mandela deserves a great movie about his life, and though actor Idris Elba does an admirable job capturing the man's spirit throughout many years, this particular movie is rather poor. It hits only highlights, going over important events like a checklist, without ever digging very deep. These moments come across as if they were merely fated to be, rather than occurring dramatically or naturally.
As a result, the character comes across as an untouchable, unrealistic superhero rather than a person, and all the other people in his life appear as ciphers. The movie barely even identifies them, much less introduces them. Director Justin Chadwick, who also made the dreadful The Other Boleyn Girl, never seems invested in the material. Not a scene passes that doesn't seem to borrow ideas from dozens of other movies. It's all quite passionless, although actress Naomie Harris, as Winnie Mandela, eventually gets in a few powerful moments during the second half.
Families can talk about...
- Families can talk about the movie's violence. How disturbing is it? Does it get its point across? Would the movie have the same impact without the violence?
- Were you familiar with Nelson Mandela before seeing this movie? What did you learn? Were you inspired to learn more?
Can you imagine being separated from your loved ones for so long? How did this separation affect Mandela's relationships? What would you do?
|Theatrical release date:||November 29, 2013|
|DVD release date:||March 18, 2014|
|Cast:||Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge|
|Topics:||Great boy role models, History|
|Run time:||139 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||some intense sequences of violence and disturbing images, sexual content and brief strong language|
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
About Our Rating System
The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.