Long Walk to Freedom

Had a good Christmas yesterday. Drove to Scottsdale, where Cousin Tina had a good breakfast waiting. We then went to the movie "Long Walk to Freedom," the story of Nelson Mandela. It came out yesterday. 

The movie was very well done. It was factual rather than preachy. I highly recommend it. Afterwards, we had a nice Christmas meal at Tina's. While she was puttering in the kitchen, I looked through a photo book about Mandela and was struck by how incredibly much effort the film makers put in to finding actors which were doppelgangers of even the most minor characters, and creating scenes which were accurate is the smallest detail. I appreciate that kind of effort. 

As a backdrop to the sometimes painful action, the beautiful scenery of South Africa. 

Unlike some movies about overcoming oppressive regimes, the oppressors in Long Walk were presented as human beings. Eventually, Mandela's guards at the prison came to admire the man. In a dramatic move, Mandela hired his former guards as his bodyguards when he was elected president. 

The film firmly made obvious the damage done by the decades of Mandela's imprisonment. Mandela's teen son died in a car crash, and Mandela was not allowed to go to the funeral. He was allowed to write two letters per year and receive two letters per year. Those letters seldom arrived, and when they did, they were in shreds. The censors got to them first. 

Mandela had nothing to do with raising his family, obviously, and that haunted him. 

When he got out of prison, his wife Winnie, who he had been with for five years before being apart for twenty-five, was a different person. She had been thrown into solitary confinement for 17 months and was embittered by the experience. She wanted revenge, and she wanted a violent uprising. They parted ways soon after Mandela's release for reasons as political as personal, it seems. 

If you want to understand Mandela and South Africa in a nuanced way which includes his imperfections and mistakes presented without apology, this film is a must. 

If it weren't for Cousin Tina, I would never see the inside of a movie theater. The last movie I saw was last Christmas Day when we went to Les Miserables. I have a tough time sitting still that long.  

UPDATE: Cousin Tina reminds me that Lance and I saw "The Great Gatsby" last fall. She remembers which movies I have attended better than I do.