Although there is much sceptacism surrounding the actual 'truth' in this true story (Mandela claims he hardly ever spoke to Gregory and that the memoirs the film is based on are mainly fictional) a lot of the issues surrounding the film hold true. Obviously the struggle for Black people to be seen as equal in South Africa is one most people are aware of, but the struggle of white people who believe in black equal rights in a time when it wasn't the accpeted thing to do is an insight we don't often see. The struggles Gregory and his family face when he starts to see things from the black persons point of view, when he sees past the propaganda and learns that they do not wish to run the white people out of their land (which is something his wife falsely believed to start with) but just wish to have equality for all is something that should be remember. Because without those who stood up for the rights of others when they did not have the history of South Africa might have played out differently.
It was also interesting to see things from Mandela's point of view - everything from violance and terrorist actions to get his voice heard, to his respect he gave political leaders who failed to do the same for him. It goes beyond the simplistic look that he was either a terrorist or a hero, rather simply showing him as a man with great intellignece, fighting for something he believes is right - he becomes more than just a black and white figure and ou see the different layers of his character. I also loved the dipiction of two of the most famous pieces of that time in South Africa's history - the speech Mandela's daughter gave on behalf of her father, in which she quoted that what would setting him free do if his people were not also free people. And the final moment that defines the recent political history in South Africa, when it was released from the clutches of civil war with the simple realse of one man.
The acting on the whole was excellent - Dennis Haysbert (who I usually love anyway) did a fantastic job playing such a famous figure. Joseph Fiennes also put in a star peformance as the prison guard who came to respect him. The only thing I was a little unsure of was their Xosa accents and language (and occasionally I thought Fiennes' South Africa accent slipped) as I wasn't sure it was spot on. But then again when I worked in South Africa I worked with mainly Afrikkaans speaking people, I'd have to ask friends their opinion to be sure.
Overall although the actual story of the relationship between Gregory and Mandela may be built on a fabrication, it represent the struggle of the white people of the time who were prepared to see past the colour of a persons skin and see the human within. And that I think is a truely inspiring message which should be remembered.