Long Walk

Must admit I am looking forward to watching Idris Elba play Nelson Mandella in the “Long Walk To Freedom” biopic. After “The Wire” and “Luther” it’s about time he got a good meaty role to play. He got such a lame role in Thor it’s good to get to see him land such a huge role. Love the look of this movie and of course a new U2 song “Ordinary love” to go with it is a coo. But looking at the trailer I do have a couple of questions:

1. What do my South African buddies think of the portrayal of the Afrikaaners?

From the trailer it looks like we are going to get another cartoonish portrayal of unremittingly evil white people and irrepressibly good black people. I understand why we do this in light of the horrific injustice that was perpetrated.But this is an oversimplification and is in fact a form of racism in itself.

2. Wondering what the will do with Winnie Mandella
Although she was the one who kept the ANC going when Mandella was in prison she ended up doing some pretty horrific things with her gang of thugs too.

“she was convicted of the 1988 kidnapping of a 14-year-old boy subsequently murdered by the “coach” of her Mandela United football club. Her marriage to Mandela was also on the rocks – they divorced in 1996 – and she would later be convicted of more than 40 charges of fraud. Cast into the political wilderness, a rise to the top echelons of the ANC was out of the question. And as an MP, she has been criticised for rarely attending parliament.”

Guardian UK.

3. What do we make of Idris Elba’s accent?

4. Really looking forward to see how they handle Nelson’s shift in thinking re violence to reconciliation to me that has got to be the heart of the film.

Wondering how that will play out in a Hollywood movie – where the audience are geared up for a final show down where evil doers get wiped out.

5. I wonder if Mandella was consulted in the making of the movie?

6. Have U2 made the whole soundtrack?

2 thoughts on “Long Walk”

  1. Hi Krish,
    I also am very eager to see the movie. People here in South Africa that I have talked to (and reviews of the movie I read from South Africans at the film festival) are skeptical on several fronts:

    1. They don’t like the fact it’s mostly US Hollywood actors/production etc. Similar to our feelings about Invictus. It’s “our story”, it would be nice if the production reflected that. However, people here ended up being won over once they saw Invictus and how well the actors pulled off the accents (which are always tricky), and how well produced the film was. I have a feeling the sentiments will be the same once this one comes out in theatres, plus this one has more South African actors than Invictus, from what I can tell.

    2. I know the guy bought the rights to this movie ages ago, so I don’t know how much Madiba was officially consulted (and of course his health has been ailing of late) but I think Madiba’s biggest criticism would be the isolation of him as the sole hero of reconciliation and the apartheid struggle. I’ve read he often would get irritated in interviews (once he was president) when people would ask him personal things about his life, and try and isolate him as the hero of the nation. He was always very emphatic that it was a collective struggle, and resisted idolization. Also, OR Tambo and Mbeki and others were hugely influental in the non-violence and reconciliation push…and I’ve heard they don’t get much mention. It’s really a one-man show. I know for a feature film trying to pull off the whole of a biography, you have to condense and tell a specific story. And honestly, Madiba is someone this whole country is extremely proud of, and we want him to be honored. However, it’s worrying that this is a complex, very complex story involving many, many people that’s being simplified for a hollywood movie and THIS is the story that the whole world is going to consume. After this movie, this is the story that the world will know about South Africa, and it’s frustrating that it can’t be more nuanced.

    3. As for the portrayal of white people…I’m white, but not Afrikaans. I feel that too often in this story the Afrikaaners are cast as villians and the English whites as innocent . Somehow that part of the story needs to change, since English whiteness has been able to stand unchallenged due to isolating Afrikaaner whiteness as the “evil” when we have been beneficiaries as well. There were some awesome Afrikaans people (like Bram Fischer who defended Mandela at the treason trial) that almost never get mentioned, and I think we need to hear those stories. But we also have to be honest– the vast majority of white people, including Christians and missionaries did nothing about apartheid. If our media portrayals of the struggle highlight the few white people at the expense of highlighting the vast majority of other races who were involved in the struggle, that’s not okay either.

    The accent– it’s okay. Morgan Freeman’s wasn’t that great, but he passed. So I feel like Elba can’t be much worse. :) I’d love to hear what other people think, especially once the movie is out.

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