Monday, December 9, 2013

Reel Facts & Opinions: Nelson Mandela on Film

Late last week, Nelson Mandela, South African revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist passed away at the age of 95.
Mandela was a larger-than-life man whose story could never be told in full in one single sitting. The film industry has made its attempts over the years; to varying degrees of success. Here now for your reading, and eventual viewing pleasure, are the most notable, fictionalized films made on Nelson Mandela to see the silver screen.

GOODBYE BAFANA (2007) – Directed by the famed Danish, Oscar-winning director Billie August, GOODBYE BAFANA told the story of the relationship between Mandela and his prison guard. Mandela was played by Dennis Haysbert (MAJOR LEAGUE, HEAT, the guy from the Allstate commercials), and the guard by Joseph Fiennes.
INVICTUS (2009) – This sports-drama, directed by Clint Eastwood, starred Morgan Freeman as Mandela. The film told the story of the events in South Africa during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which was held in the country for the first time since apartheid ended. Matt Damon co-starred as the captain of the Rugby team. The film earned Oscar nominations for both Freeman and Damon.

WINNIE MANDEA (2011) – Stars Oscar-winning actor Terence Howard as Mandela, with another Oscar winner, Jennifer Hudson, as Winnie, Mandela’s wife. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2011, but only just saw a limited-to-wide release this past fall. Critically drubbed, the film has been met with negative reactions from the Mandela family.
MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM (2013) – Directed by Justin Chadwick (THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL) and starring Idris Elba (THOR, PACIFIC RIM) as Mandela, the most recent film about the man chronicles his early life, education, and 27 years in prison before becoming President and rebuilding South African society. Naomi Harris (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, SKYFALL) stars as Winnie. Having debuted at the TIFF this fall, it has been met with mixed to positive reviews and will see a wide release soon. Famed rock band U2 has written a new song specifically for the film.

Again, it’s impossible for any one film to completely capture the amazing story Nelson Mandela lived. But through each frame of film, maybe we can try to catch up with him.



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