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The Hills Are Alive

March 30, 2014


I just watched Mandela, Long Walk To Freedom.

For a movie that skims across the surface of 50+ years of South African history it’s impressively affecting. And I’ve been thinking why it didn’t fall into certain tropes that too often encumber biopics.

The movie has palpable energy for one. I felt swept along in the great tide of history it depicts. The movie doesn’t get hung up trying to explain itself. I could feel that it enjoyed what it was, being a movie; being a popular entertainment out to tell the story of an amazing personage of the twentieth century. The script was solid without being overly sentimental or preachy. It’s the story after all of a man of action who took action. Nelson Mandela walked his talk.

Plus, at the heart of this movie are two terrific performances; Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela and Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela. Both actors capture the “music” of the people they’re portraying. Both actors take solid material and elevate it. There’s also a natural dramatic tension built into the story since both protagonists have opposing dramatic arcs. They share an experience and a separation that in its outcome embodies the light and shadow side of such a journey.

Not to spoil the experience, the picture closes with sweeping aerial shots of Idris Elba (or is it Nelson Mandela?) striding across the rolling green hills of South Africa.  This final movie movie image seems true for a leader who faced severe challenges throughout his life, ultimately returning to his ancestral home triumphant and revered.


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  1. Dean Paton permalink

    The trailer looks pretty solid. Good to have your imprimatur on this.

    Dr. Yes


    • barbara permalink

      Based on your description, it’s now on my “watch” list. Thanks, Rayman. I love the way you write.


  2. B-ster, you’re velcome. Idris Elba’s performance really makes it work.


  3. Camilla permalink

    I agree with your assessment. It was better than your average biopic. The U2 song from the movie won an Oscar.


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