Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Blu-ray)

April 1, 2014 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

With the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, now seemed like a good time to view this film. Not to mention the fact that I have to review it. The last time I saw a film about him was with 2009’sInvictus which was directed by Clint Eastwood. I wasn’t overly crazy about that film, but it had its charms. Mandela Long Walk To Freedom takes a bit of a different approach and focuses primarily on his prison term and his relationship with Winnie Mandela (Naomi Harris), but we also get much more, including his early life. Idris Elba plays Nelson Mandela and his performance is arguably the best thing about the film. I liked it a little more than I anticipated, but I can’t say it did a lot for me. Part of the problem for me was the film’s pacing and choppy storytelling. It lacks a strong focus and a lot of attention is given to Mandela’s time in prison. That’s fine, but that means the other plot elements aren’t given as much attention.

I do applaud the film for taking a fairly neutral stance. It gives an honest look at Mandela’s life and never tries to glamorize things or over-dramatize others. It certainly can be very hard to watch at times. There are scenes of innocent people being gunned down, some are even shot in the back. I’ve heard some complain that Mandela’s accomplishments were too grand to fit into one film and while I still think a better film can be made, this deserves credit its effort. Maybe if this picked a particular aspect of his life and focused on that then things might’ve been more successful. It must’ve been a challenge for the filmmakers to know where to begin and end when they approached this story. At the end of the day I can’t quite recommend the film, but the central performance from Idris Elba is good and its intentions honorable.

Video: How’s it look?

The AVC encoded (2.35:1) image is pretty darned good. There are many day scenes, especially during Mandela’s prison time and things stayed sharp and strong throughout. The print was clean and free of flaws and flesh tones and details were nice and smooth. Background shots displayed nice details and textures on clothing came through strong too. This is a fine transfer and will please fans.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track is involving and displays plenty of range from all channels. There’s plenty of background noise from many sequences, especially in the riot sequences when bullets are fired among other things. There was a nice, natural sound to the vocals and that added to the track. I enjoyed Elba’s accent quite a bit and it came across nice and clear here. This track (like the transfer) accompanies the film well.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Fans will be pleased with the modest assortment of extras found on this disc, which also includes a DVD copy and digital copy code.

  • Audio Commentary – Director Justin Chadwick provides a running commentary for the film providing his thoughts on the film-making process.
  • Mandela: The leader you know, the man you didn’t – We get some info on Mandela’s life and accomplishments among other things.
  • Behind the scenes featurettes – Broken into 4 sections which include: Production design, costumes and makeup, Special Effects and Music and Sound. Most are pretty self-explanatory and give info on their respective topics.
  • Tribute video gallery – This features interviews with several people on their thoughts of Mandela.
  • Previews
  • DVD/UltraViolet Copy

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