Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Trailer
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Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Trailer

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trailers | July 15, 2013 | Comments ()


I usually try to put something clever in the title, some play on words to grab you and titillate you, but in this case I felt that would simply be burying the lede. Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela. Boom, done. I think we’re all on board. I mean, there’s a trailer and a wonderful poster, both of which I’ve placed for your convenience below, but really I think everyone in this readership simply needed a date, time, and location. November 29th, America. January 3rd, Britain. Hah! That’s for the Boer War you poxy berks!

Here’s the teaser trailer, which includes Idris Elba talking, so I’ve been warned that may in and of itself make it NSFW for some of you:

And here’s the poster:


Mandela has been reportedly close to death for some time now, hospitalized. I used to wonder about biographical films like this, had a whole chip on my shoulder about them, how they cut and sanitize and rewrite in order to turn all the convoluted complexity of history into neat little packages of quotes and feel good moments. But I think the mistake was in ever thinking that movies are intended to be history in and of themselves.

That’s not to say that they should make whatever changes they feel like to make the story better, but I think that we need to remember sometimes that movies are the stories we tell ourselves, the ways we compress the years and decades of slow development down into something we can wrap our minds around, something that we can pass on to those who weren’t there. The history, at its broadest, is the terrain. And the movie is the map, stylized to be sure, incapable of conveying the miles under our feet, of detailing every last turn in the road. But capable of showing even if just to ourselves, that this is the path we traced.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Pitter Patter Matter

    My nipples get super pointy every time I get the chills.

    I'm taking up stone carving.

  • MissAmynae

    Beautiful. Will be there with bells on.

  • TCH

    Wasn't Irdis Elba slated for Seven Years a Slave? Or was that someone esle?

  • emmalita

    Chiwetel Ejiofor.

  • TCH

    I thought so. I just cannot spell his name.

  • emmalita


  • TCH

    Is it racism if it is unintentional?

  • emmalita

    I was joking. I don't think you're a racist. I just have a weird and inappropriate sense of humor. I posted it without thinking it through, and then Disqus wouldn't let me delete it.

  • Idle Primate

    i chuckled

  • TCH

    I was trying to be humrous but it fell flat.

  • emmalita

    Damn Internet. So hard to convey tone.

    edit: I was going to make a joke about the internet being racist, but it's too true to be funny. sigh. I always have to look up how to spell Ejiofor's name too. But he's so good I don't mind.

  • TCH

    Everyone is a little bit racist. Guess where that came from?

  • emmalita
  • TCH

    "If you wove him".

  • PaddyDog

    I hope this does justice to his story. It's just as important to show what a kick-ass radical he was as it is to show the elder statesman he became. I hope it also gets across that there were many countries (US included) where he once would not have been welcomed by the powers of the time.

  • Artemis

    Yes! I was a kid when he was released from prison, and I feel like all of the narrative since then has (understandably) been focused on his time as President. When I read Long Walk to Freedom in college I was blown away at everything that came before that, particularly everything he did while in prison -- the latter being a time that generally gets glossed over in stories of his life, like he was just sitting around waiting to be released during those 27 years.

    Thankfully, this movie looks like it is going to cover a lot of his earlier life. Also, Idris and Naomie Harris. I am super psyched for it.

  • Maguita NYC

    "People learn to hate, They can be taught to Love, For Love comes more naturally"

    The rhythm of that speech pattern is exactly the fascination and captivation Mr. Mandela's voice had first quivered my heart. The world is so vast you believe one prisoner's silence in pain could never reach you, but then comes Mandela.

    I second what Koko and everyone said already, you are a great writer SLW, and this movie promises to be Oscar contender. However I must admit, I did not feel any sexual stirrings, no matter the Idris Elba factor who is on my Freebie-5 list.

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    Growing up in Rwanda in the 80s and 90s, morning assembly at school consisted of: morning prayer, singing of national anthem and reciting a quote that was in all classrooms "Apartheid in South Africa is a crime against humanity". I didn't understand the word "apartheid", and then I learned what it meant and I still don't understand the concept. But well, I'll watch. I'm just nervous about how they'll deal with Winnie Mandela. There seems to be a huge gap between how she's seen by a lot of Africans and how the Western countries see her.

  • emmalita

    When the movie comes out, I'll be looking for you and TK to see what you thought. African history fascinates me, but I've never had the opportunity to travel in Africa.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    ooh, thanks to you and @pajibatk:disqus for sharing your experiences. A nice personal peek into the history.

  • BiblioGlow

    This whole thread makes me want a 'Stories of Pajibans' comment diversion. Maybe vivid memories from childhood that, upon adult reflection, seem much more important/unbelievable/revealing than you realized at the time? Or just stories from your childhood that other people would be completely taken aback by.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I"m always flabbergasted when people post things like "I'm in Cambodia anc..." because it's so far removed from where I am, and my basic assumption is most Pajibans are like me. But I learn a lot about the USA by reading my fellow Pajibans' comments. and now international perspectives as well

  • Maguita NYC

    You seem to have better knowledge of this couple's history, so where does she really stand? A savvy political maven who was able to rescue her husband, build his hero worship while imprisoned, or nothing but a "temptress" who was only looking after her own survival?

    Shameful my lack of knowledge, and how we get "versions" of history here.

  • TK

    Oh, man. Winnie is... a difficult subject. She's certainly far too complex a personality to simply peg her as a temptress or a crazy person. Because the truth is that in the early days of the struggle, she was AMAZING. She was strong and tough and brilliant and inspirational. But... at some point during Nelson's imprisonment, she started to go off the rails, delving more and more into an unpleasant brand of extremism (indirectly endorsing "necklacing," for example).

    Of course, essentially cheating on our national hero doesn't help your cause, even though, given that he was supposed to be in prison for life, it's hard to judge her too harshly.

    But nowadays, it's hard to not see her as exemplary of so many things that have gone wrong with post-Apartheid South Africa. A hardline radical who has never taken to the more politically expedient and socially acceptable practice of reconciliation meant she put herself directly at odds with the direction the country wanted to go after power changed hands. It's further complicated by her extensive history of other problems. Lying and corruption and abuse of power - those are all allegations that have been brought against her, and they are all symptoms of what is a cancerous force in the SA government.

    For me, she's less a villain and more a cautionary tale. The two of them are a perfect coin, two radically different sides of what can happen in a difficult and challenging political and socioeconomic crisis like the one faced by SA. You can either fight the hard fight on the side of righteousness like Nelson, or you can slide down that slippery slope into darkness like Winnie did. But there's way more to her story than anyone can really, fully understand.

    That was probably far more of my opinion than you expected. Sorry, I have a tendency to ramble on when it comes to the subject.

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    Thanks for that, TK. For us in other countries in Africa, it just looked like she was made the scapegoat. Yes, she was far from perfect, but there was a bitter taster when it looked like the white apartheid government that had done much worse things than her kind of got away with it while she was hung out to dry. There's a certain fondness for her strength and leadership after her husband was jailed. You're right, she's no clean cut hero, but who knows what that kind of anger and pain can do to those of us who aren't Nelson Mandela?

  • Maguita NYC

    Actually, thank you for your rambling for it made me think about perceptions and perspectives.

    I am a child of war. Up until the age of almost 12, I lived war and all its abominations; There is no righteousness. Being quiet, I was put in situations where people forgot my existence and I would be witness to... life unfolding. Including the treatment of women and their place in a man's world. With time, you put past images together and start understanding things quite differently.

    If you look at most story telling, whether based in reality or fiction, for a long time now generally speaking, when a man goes to war the woman not only stays behind, but there is an odd expectation that her life is somehow put on hold, as if she ceases living while the man's story goes on. And men are expected to make war, kill, pillage, live through as well submit horrors onto others, while women await patiently their return, so they could start living again. That is if they survive at all. And my perception of the trickled information regarding Winnie is that after all these years, going against the grain, fighting loudly for her husband and in the same breath for South Africa, annoying many while leaving others bewildered, it finally backfired.

    Something suddenly changed in the way she was presented. She got vilified by her own people and hailed as evil. Maybe she became drunk with power, maybe she realized the insignificance of her fighting and opted to live differently, or took a divergent approach. If you can't beat them...

    And like men who go to war or travel the world for years on end, she had affairs. More unforgivable.

    I wish someone would tell her story. Someone would expound it all very coldly, the good and the bad. And that we are faced with the consequences that led her husband, for whom she had obviously fought for so long, to publicly abdicate her. Reject her. For cheating (?!)

    I now await Long Walk to Freedom with trepidation; Apprehension at how the Winnie conundrum would be presented, if at all.

  • emmalita

    Beautifully said. If you wrote it, I would read it.

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    Very insightful, thanks. You've expressed something I couldn't put my finger on. I also want someone to tell her story as objectively as possible, but we don't really get a lot of biopics about women, do we? Except queens.

  • TK

    That is absolutely fascinating because it's such a sharp contrast to how it was for me. When I was a child in South Africa, morning assembly consisted of: morning prayer, singing of national anthem, and then reciting what was a essentially a pledge of allegiance to how great Apartheid was.

    Oh, and then bomb drills.

    This was in a school for coloured children, mind you. It was so ingrained, so indoctrinated, that we never really understood the concept. We just knew that there were schools we couldn't go to, bathrooms we couldn't use, and restaurants we couldn't eat at. But it was rare that we ever asked "why," unless you had parents (like I did) who were active in the struggle.

    I'm incredibly interested to see how this turns out.

  • Mrs. Julien

    This just screams "Oscar!", doesn't it?

  • Horatio Postlethwaite

    Finally he has landed/chosen a role that is worthy of his talent. I was getting a little worried with some of the parts he has done for movies.

  • Idle Primate

    ah but those parts will pay the rent for years to come, freeing up his choices in other roles

  • koko temur

    You are a such a wonderful writer. I dont even care that the trailer just got me pregnant.

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