Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom


Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Critics Consensus

It might be too respectful to truly soar, but there's no denying Idris Elba's impressive work in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom -- or the inspirational power of the life it depicts.



Reviews Counted: 136

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Average Rating: 3.7/5

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Movie Info

MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is based on South African President Nelson Mandela's autobiography of the same name, which chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country's once segregated society. Idris Elba (PROMETHEUS) stars as Nelson Mandela with Justin Chadwick (THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL) directing. (c) Weinstein

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Idris Elba
as Nelson Mandela
Naomie Harris
as Winnie Mandela
Tony Kgoroge
as Walter Sisulu
Riaad Moosa
as Ahmed Kathrada
Jamie Bartlett
as James Gregory
Lindiwe Matshikiza
as Zindzi Mandela
Deon Lotz
as Kobie Coetzee
Zolani Mkiva
as Raymond Mhlaba
Robert Hobbs (II)
as Chief Warder
Carl Beukes
as Niels Barnard
Mark Elderkin
as Sophiatown Policeman
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Critic Reviews for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

All Critics (136) | Top Critics (33)

  • Not so much a drama as a kind of protracted educational video, the message driven home by a soupily emotional score and repeated flashbacks, sometimes in slo-mo, to Mandela's golden memories of the past, bathed in sunlight.

    Jan 3, 2014 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • A worthy, if unadventurous biopic of the recently departed South African political icon.

    Jan 2, 2014 | Rating: 3/5
  • If it is a bit stately, that is understandable: his life story really is extraordinary. The movie pays homage - in good faith.

    Jan 2, 2014 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Even those familiar with the history will be impressed and moved to see these events as Mandela experienced them, before the Nobel Prize and universal adulation recast the past in a glow of inevitability.

    Dec 26, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Nelson Mandela gets the Classics Illustrated treatment with this handsome, undemanding biopic.

    Dec 26, 2013 | Full Review…
  • The life of Nelson Mandela is simply too big, too complex and too important to be contained in one movie.

    Dec 26, 2013 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom


Idris Elba does an impressive job in this respectful and nicely crafted biopic that is unfortunately not so engaging from an emotional point of view nor as memorable as the man who inspired it, and the jumps in time only contribute to dilute our involvement.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

four stars

MisterYoda ?
MisterYoda ?

Super Reviewer

A deeply moving, very emotional and extremely powerful motion picture. An unforgettable and extraordinary movie that is packed with great character development, passion, heart and emotion all in a thrilling true story. It's a bold and unapologetic history lesson that digs deep and shows us things we were not aware of and make you respect Mandela more, and see more of his inner and political struggle. Idris Elba is absolutely magnificent, he gives one of the best performances of his career and truly one of the best performances by a male lead in 2013. Naomie Harris gives a remarkable and riveting performance, she truly shines in this role. Harris and Elba give fantastic dedication to their roles. A breathtaking triumph. A movie that is gorgeously crafted and also shakes and moves you.

Al S
Al S

Super Reviewer

It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die. Very Good Film! A powerful movie, that shows a man more passionate about equality and human rights than his own well being, and sadly at the detriment of his own family. This is a balanced portrayal of multi-layered characters. Mandela is represented with great respect but he is not offered to us as a saint. He treats his first wife unkindly and his support for violence is not disguised. The film really impresses with its representation of Winnie, a woman who suffered so much, hated so much, and herself caused so much injustice. Mandela is now dead but his great project - the creation of a peaceful and prosperous multiracial nation - is still a work in progress. This biographical film of Mandela's life, which premiered on the day he died, has undeniable good points and bad points, and sometimes they are the same thing. Its main problem is one which is common with this sort of movie: it is so aware that it is telling an important story that it sometimes forgets that it is supposed to engage its audience at the same time: it is earnest and worthy, but not always entertaining. Idris Elba does a good Mandela voice and conveys charisma, particularly as the young and vital Mandela: he is perhaps a little too physically imposing. Naomie Harris was Winnie Mandela is stunningly good. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a solidly made, but safe film. There are excellent moments in the second half of the film as South Africa implodes with violence, but it is a very safe film that tries to fit too much in its running time. It is a film that can easily appeal to a middle -aged, mainstream audience. Nelson Mandela is a South African lawyer who joins the African National Congress in the 1940s when the law under the Apartheid system's brutal tyranny proves useless for his people. Forced to abandon peaceful protest for armed resistance after the Sharpeville Massacre, Mandela pays the price when he and his comrades are sentenced to life imprisonment for treason while his wife, Winnie, is abused by the authorities herself. Over the decades in chains, Mandela's spirit is unbowed as his struggle goes on in and beyond his captivity to become an international cause. However, as Winnie's determination hardens over the years into a violent ruthlessness, Nelson's own stature rises until he becomes the renowned leader of his movement. That status would be put to the test as his release nears and a way must be found to win a peaceful victory that will leave his country, and all its peoples, unstained.

Manu Gino
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

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