On Christmas Day, the much-anticipated Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom was released to the general public. The film, like the book of the same name, is the story of Nelson Mandela's journey from the jailhouse to the state house. It was a huge hit at the Chicago International Film Festival in October where this viewer attended a crowded screening. Retired serviceman Albert Mitchell said, "I cried with pride seeing this wonderful film."
As I walked out of the theater, I shared with Chicago International Film Festival board member Randy Crumpton why I thought this might be the best of the 183 films in the whole festival. It's directed by Justin Chadwick, who previously directed The Other Boleyn Girl. It stars Idris Elba, who was absolutely stunning in his subtlety and complexity (at least to me, having interviewed Mandela at the Washington Press Club in the early '90s).
Similarly, Naomie Harris, another black Brit actor, was superb as Winnie Mandela. I overheard a few female attendees argue that Harris, a Pembroke College (Cambridge) graduate, was actually better.
Clearly, both were convincing at making attendees repeatedly chant the biopic's Xhosa/Zulu theme of "Amandla" (power).
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