Stately ‘mandela’ Humanizes An African Icon

<img src='http://tbo.com/storyimage/TB/20131226/ARTICLE/131229602/EP/1/1/?maxH=337?/EP-131229602.jpg&#039; width='200px' alt='Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela, left, and Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela, in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” The Weinstein Company’ style=’float:left;padding:5px’ />

Mandela was tall, as is Elba (of the Thor movies and Takers). And Elba manages both the voice and a hint of the presence of the great man. He tends to tower over the movie, as well, in this comprehensive but generally dry account of one mans journey from upwardly mobile attorney to activist to revolutionary to statesman. There are no name actors arrayed against him as his South African oppressors. Some of the sense of struggle is lost when you spend almost all your charismatic cash on your leading man and dont give him villains of equal stature. With Long Walk, Gladiator and Les Miserables screenwriter William Nicholson and director Justin Chadwick, at home in period pieces (The Other Boleyn Girl) and Africa (The First Grader), manage a comprehensive history lesson that approaches but never quite achieves epic. Theyre better at humanizing their hero than Richard Attenborough was with Gandhi, for instance. But theres barely a hint of grandeur and triumph to this amazing story.
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