Saturday movie review: "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom"

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit my ignorance up to this point regarding Nelson Mandela. His history, his legacy, the difference he's made in his world... our world. Sure, I knew he was integral to South Africa's anti-apartheid movement. But I didn't really get it.

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

I now really get it. Thanks to the movie MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, starring the brilliant (and yes, quite handsome) Idris Elba. I now not only know more about the man, his story, his cause, I now admire the now-deceased leader and his impressive legacy more than I thought I might.

MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM tells Nelson Mandela's journey from his first entrance into manhood  via a tribal celebration to his moment of victory in being named South Africa's first democratically elected president. Plus all the amazing, unnerving, oft-times enraging but always inspiring highlights of his life in between.

As I mentioned, I knew little about Mandela before watching the movie, but as this film is based on Nelson Mandela's autobiography, I trust that director Justin Chadwick and screenplay writer William Nicholson got the facts right.

Many times while watching the film I shook my head at my own ignorance of Mandela and his story. How did I not pay closer attention to the horror stories of racial injustice and the challenges faced by this man and his country? I'm thankful I went ahead and added this film to my Netflix queue — which I admit to doing mostly because I saw an interview with Idris Elba during film award season and was quite impressed by him. I was even more impressed with him — and with Nelson Mandela and his legacy — after watching MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM.

Interestingly, I felt I knew more about Winnie Mandela — played in the movie by talented and lovely Naomie Harris — in the past. The movie made it clear to me that my assumption that she was a long-suffering wife who stood by her man was only partially true, that there's far, far more to the story. She was and continues to be a strong, determined woman in her own right, doing what she feels is right regardless of popular opinion.

I think MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM should be required viewing for high-school students. It's a powerful and passionate, not-to-be-missed drama... even for adults who may, unlike me, already know the story.

Rent it. Really. MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM (rated PG-13 "for some intense sequences of violence and disturbing images, sexual content and brief strong language") is now out on DVD, Blu-ray and digitally. Find out more on the official movie website.