Music (Original Song) - "Ordinary Love" - Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a surprising film in that it manages to laud the human rights struggle led by Nelson Mandela without portraying the man as a saint. It shows his greatness and his flaws, and the real challenges that those who were left at home continued to face while he was locked behind bars.
I'm not sure that a biopic will ever truly do justice to any individual. When you google Mandela the man, you see not only his triumphs but also his dalliances with people and causes that we may or may not support. Right or wrong, Mandela (the film) shows some of these human failings, if not the political ones.
But there is one element of the man that goes undisputed and that I consider to be Mandela's greatest achievement. After decades living under apartheid and being oppressed and beaten simply for being black, Mandela convinces a nation weary and bruised and eager for justice to use power for its true purpose - for leadership, for changing lives, for modernizing the country, and not simply for revenge. It is easy to see how anyone who continued to endure the systemic racism under Apartheid laws would be clamoring to teach those who had oppressed them what it is like to have the tables turned once they have been ousted from their perches. No, said Mandela the man, and no, said Mandela the leader. The goal of the fight was to eliminate injustice, not to perpetrate it on a different enemy.
The song from this film captures it beautifully and is a strong contender for the win. I'm disappointed that this film did not get more nominations, particularly for Idris Elba who portrayed Mandela. By the end of the film, if you closed your eyes, you could hear the real Mandela's voice. It was a transformation that only the finest actor could accomplish and I genuinely feel that this was a terrible oversight in favor of lesser performances. (I'm looking at you, Christian Bale.) The same can be said for supporting actress, Naomie Harris, who played Winnie Mandela. (I'm looking at you, Meryl Streep.) These were not straightforward roles to play, and what they both had to endure to become their characters is worthy of top recognition. It is a disgrace that neither was nominated, particularly when you look at some of the performances in what would have been their categories.
Frankly, I could name multiple categories for which Mandela would be worthy of nomination, and I'm merely relieved that it didn't go completely unnoticed by the Academy, even if it is just for its powerful song. (Click to see the youtube video accompanied by a slide show of the real Mandela's life.)
Haven't seen the film?
Watch the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Movie Trailer