The Madiba movie – “Long Walk to Freedom”

I know that I suffer from post-holiday blues, always have done. Especially right after an amazing 2-weeks-feels-like-a-month trip to my friends and family in Sunny South Africa. It brings up all sorts of existential questions of “what am I doing so far from home?” and the like…

So I cannot decide if it was a good thing or a bad thing to watch the Mandela film, “Long Walk to Freedom” only a few days after returning to Germany.

It was certainly an emotional experience: I am not shy to admit I shed more than a few tears, especially at his release, and his inauguration. Tears of pride at being South African, tears of joy at having experienced this transition first hand, tears of sadness for all that was before. Tears of relief that it went relatively smoothly.

I must confess that I only started reading the book, Long Walk to Freedom, 3 months ago, in November 2012. It is a book I have given as gifts numerous times over the last 20 years, but somehow never got round to reading it myself… shame on me…

On the whole, I was very impressed with the movie. The acting, the cinematography, the soundtrack, the script, everything.

The book is very long, so it goes without saying that some things were / had to be left out – otherwise it would have been a Lord of the Rings type trilogy Epic. And even though it is Mandela – that would not have done well at the box office. Even now, it is sadly not doing well here in Germany.

There are some things that I would have thought to leave in – for example, I don’t remember there being any reference to the “Rivonia Trials” at all. That is a phrase and name that has been heard around the world, and should have come up.

There were moments of surprise, shock even, in the scenes where Mandela’s very human side is shown. He was not shy to admit that he was a bit of a ladies’ man – who can resist that charm? That smile? That voice?

And I noticed only 2 small “errors” – one where a number plate on a car was incorrect, and one where a new South African flag was seen on a t-short in a scene long before the flag was unveiled. But nothing serious.

I got a real kick out of recognising faces and seeing names and faces of people that I know – the actor Armand Aucamp (one of the Robben Island warders), or one of my first “girlfriends” – Emily Whitefield who played a lady on the train. And the late Vivenne Gray in design. We have some great talent!

It was interesting to get others’ perspectives on the film as well – we were a group of 5 Africans – 3 from SA, 1 from Kenya and 1 from Ghana.

We all felt a connection of sorts, but our Ghanaian friend mentioned that the last hour was the most interesting for him – the bit that covers recent history, that has been in our time. That we have experienced and followed “live”.

Parts of Mandela’s story have been told so many times, and each movie is great. This one does an amazing job of trying to chronicle the timeline as a whole – not a small feat to attempt.

Well done, well done. Can you believe it is already 24 years ago, today, that he was released?

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