‘Long Walk to Freedom’ offers lesson for all ages

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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba as former South African President Nelson Mandela, is a lesson to be learned by all ages.

As the world still mourns after Nelson Mandela’s December 5th death, there’s a slight comfort and learning opportunity with this movie. With seven different movies about Nelson Mandela’s life, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is only movie authorized by Nelson Mandela and his family.

Idris Elba and Naomie Harris as Nelson and Winnie Mandela are a match made in heaven. Elba, who was recently nominated for Best Actor by the Golden Globes for his role in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, is strong and poised, and with the spot of makeup magic, gave the audience an intense snapshot of Nelson Mandela from a young lad to a senior citizen. Whereas, Harris is feisty and mild tempered as the former First Lady of South Africa.  Both actors portray the couple as they had studied their behavior and work for a long period of time.

As expected, the movie was long. Although worth it, I wonder why the movie focused a great deal of time on his first marriage and his promiscuous ways. I know all leaders are not perfect and hold their own flaws. But the focus on that particular part of his life was not detrimental to story line. I wish the movie would have shed light more on the work he did once he was elected president in 1994.
This photo released by The Weinstein Company shows Idris Elba, left, as Nelson Mandela, and Riaad Moosa, as Ahmed Kathrada, in the film, "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." (AP Photo/The Weinstein Company, Keith Bernstein)

This photo released by The Weinstein Company shows Idris Elba, left, as Nelson Mandela, and Riaad Moosa, as Ahmed Kathrada, in the film, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” (AP Photo/The Weinstein Company, Keith Bernstein)

On December 12th, Movie Scene Queen hosted a special screening of the movie and invited Pittsburgh Public Schools students and District leaders. Student members of the African American Center for Advanced Studies (AACAS) Executive Committee, a group of PPS Black gifted students, and young African American men a part of the WE PROMISE program, a District initiative to mentor male students and help them obtain the Pittsburgh Promise, were in attendance.

“The only thing I knew about Nelson Mandela was that he fought to end apartheid and spent 27 years in prison.  Everything else that happened in the movie, I never knew” says AACAS executive committee member and Brashear High School junior, Makeda Drew, 16.

Drew and roughly 40 other students spent 139 minutes learning the multi-layered story of Nelson Mandela. “I think it’s important for us to be exposed to a great leader. The movie was inspirational to see what changes one man could accomplish because of what he believed in,” says Drew.

The movie has already seen cinematic success in South Africa.  According to Box Office Mojo, the movie debuted at #1 during its opening weekend (November 28th release date) and has currently grossed an estimated $1.2 million.

4 STARS: In addition to the many local initiatives in Pittsburgh to honor Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy, let’s maximize on this holiday break and support this movie. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a must see for everyone.

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Merecedes J. Howze, Movie Scene Queen

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