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Amandla! Watch Idris Elba, Naomie Harris In First Full Trailer For 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom'

by Tambay A. Obenson
July 18, 2013 8:04 PM
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I expected it would drop today, given that it's his 95th birthday.

So here it is folks, the first full trailer for MandelaLong Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela, in a film directed by Justin Chadwick, which highlights Mandela's early life, education and 27 years in prison. 

The Weinstein Company will open it on November 29 - likely as one of its Oscar contenders. 

Producers have said that the film will have an "epic sweep," from a script written by GladiatorShadowlands and Les Miserables writer, William Nicholson.

South African stars Tony KgorogeRiaad Moosa, Zolani MkivaJamie Bartlett, Lindiwe MatshikizaDeon Lotz and Terry Pheto, round out the cast.

Happy 95th birthday Mr Mandela, or should I say Madiba; Needless to say, he's lived quite a lengthy and involved life.

A life that has been, and will continue to be the subject of scripted films and documentaries.

Great black actors like Sidney PoitierDennis HaysbertMorgan FreemanDavid Harewood and most recently Terrence Howard have all played him, whether in projects that were specifically centered around him, or in which his wife, Winnie Mandela, was the focus.

However, in looking over all those films - even those in which his story was the highlight, the narrative always included his relation to some specific white man - in Mandela and de Clerk (Poitier & Michael Caine); Goodbye Bafana (Haysbert and Ralph Fiennes as a prison guard responsible for Mandela, and the relationship they had); and Invictus (Freeman and Matt Damon as captain of the South African Springboks rugby team).

So really, I can't say that any of them has focused solely on Mandela's life, absent of any white co-pilot; meaning, there hasn't been what I'd call the definitive Nelson Mandela film or TV series (and I'm talking strictly about scripted narratives here, not including documentaries), which, if you think about it, is a shame, given the global awareness of this icon of a human being.

Hopefully, that will be corrected this year, as Idris Elba's Long Walk to Freedom, which is said to be a definitive work on the life of Nelson Mandela, will open in theaters on November 29, courtesy of The Weinstein Company. 

Check out the first full trailer below; I must say, in watching this, that it's going to be rather difficult to *see* Mandela, and not Idris Elba *playing* Mandela. But I'll reserve further commentary until I see the entire film:

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  • Kelea | August 5, 2013 4:07 AMReply

    Who is nitpicking? Most of the comments (save for the last one) were leaning towards positive or at least hopeful. As for my personal opinion, I'm with AFRICAMELEON. I LOVE Idris but he would not have been my first choice, and although I know the acting will be top notch, I still think the criticisms are fair. There have been quite a few portrayals of Mr. Mandela and I don't think any of them have ever really gotten it right. By the way, has a South African actor ever played him in a movie before?

  • SpitTruth | July 28, 2013 3:24 AMReply

    Terrible casting. Terrible accent. Idris needs a better agent. Chiwitel Ejiofor is the next Denzel.

  • Daniel | July 22, 2013 7:06 PMReply

    STOP NICKPICKING!!!! lord black folks cant be happy for nothing.... This site is for black films and you're complaining?

  • QBN | July 21, 2013 2:34 AMReply

    MUCH better than I expected.. Idris is the man, I hope he eventually reaches "Denzel" level status in his career.

  • Africameleon | July 20, 2013 11:50 PMReply

    I start to like it... And then I remember that it's about Nelson Mandela. If it were Elba playing another activist - One with leading man looks, height, build, and sex appeal like Elba - then cool. But it's not. Madiba is and was a "regular / every" man who did extraordinary things. He wasn't the quarterback. That's what makes him great IMHO. But don't get me wrong, a good actor can pull it off. So I will wait to see what happens when it's released.

  • AccidentalVisitor | July 20, 2013 11:51 AMReply

    Really like what I see here. Six months ago, when no one was talking about this movie, I came across some early feedback that gave me hope that this film had lots of promise. So far the trailers only confirm this. I'm interested what the final result will actually be.

  • Alex | July 19, 2013 4:21 PMReply

    How come no one has kicked up a fuss about idris playing nelson Mandela but everyone was up in arms about Zoë Saldana playing Nina Simone? is it because of the black face

  • AccidentalVisitor | July 20, 2013 11:49 AM

    Most people complaining about Zoe (and I wasn't one of them) did so because they were questioning if she was the right ethnicity. It wasn't just that she didn't look anything like Nina, it was also because people were either claiming her to be Hispanic (as if Hispanic represents a single race which it does not) or they were arguing that Zoe herself had identified as being Latina rather than a black woman...or something silly like that. A small portion of the detractors blew her off as someone who never seemed to care about black storylines considering her other more prominent roles. And it didn't help that Simone's daughter came out publicly against the casting of Zoe and the storyline of the movie itself.

    Now....last time I checked no such objections ever came to bear when Elba got the Mandela role. So for you to even as the question about if there is a double standard is disingenuous. And by the way what is a "black face"? Please describe because as far as I can see Mandela, Simone, Elba and Saldan all have black faces. Is there supposed to be one type?

    And as for Lauren crying victim below about it being favoritism shown towards men in this situation, let us first remember that the people who seemed to object the most vehemently to Zoe being cast as Simone were female posters on this site. Second of all let us not overlook that no one has said **** about Naomi Harris being chosen to play Winnie either even though she doesn't look much like the woman she is portraying.

  • lauren | July 19, 2013 4:52 PM

    Because he's a man and women are the chosen target on this site. Check out the bullshit about Kerry Washington being a bad role model and sexually loose in her Emmy nominated role in the TV show, Scandal..

  • Beezdablock | July 19, 2013 11:09 AMReply

    You know, I am so concerned about the casting choice (as much as I love Idris). I hate to hear fake accents. It just hurts my ears. Surely, there are actors on the continent or in South Africa who could play these roles, but I digress.

    I really want to see this! I am such a fan of Naomie Harris (and she hardly ever gets a lead) and Idris Elba, two gorgeous and talented actors. I'll watch this this one for sure (much quicker than I'll watch that crappy looking Mandela pic with Jhud and Terrence Howard). Very exciting!

  • Alex | July 19, 2013 5:01 PM

    His accent is actually better than I thought it would be - but I get you, irrespective of his talent to perform, a bad accent can really ruin a film. Looking forward to this though.

  • Darkan | July 19, 2013 1:42 AMReply

    Idris Elba as Idris Elba playing Mandela... *Eyes rolling*

  • mantan | July 19, 2013 2:21 PM

    lololol!!! he didn't do it for me either...

    i don't know if idris elba doesn't have range or i've typecast him in my mind but all i could see/hear was stringer bell/ luther with a fake mumbling south african accent.

    i'm still going to watch it because aside from that small issue with idris elba the movie looks really good overall.

  • M. | July 19, 2013 12:55 AMReply

    No ...

  • EM | July 18, 2013 10:52 PMReply

    I've watched this trailer so many times within the past few hours. And JP is right this is looking to be the "The Year of the Black Actor", which is progress to say the least. With Fruitvale Station, Twelve Years a Slave, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom all looking like strong quality films. I hope that this isn't just a trend though. Hopefully this will lead to not just progress for Black Actors but also progress for Black Actresses and eventually mainstream integration...but now saying that aloud it just sounds like fluffy wishful thinking. If anything I hope people don't see these movies as "Black Films" but rather as universal stories, because the history behind the later two and the socio-economic and racial issues in the former have influenced us all, Black and White.

  • JP | July 18, 2013 10:39 PMReply

    The Year of the Black Actor is alive and real! That makes potentially Idris, Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, and Chiwetel as Best Actor nominees. (It'll never happen, but we can hope).
    Its hard not to see this as Idris-playing-Mandela visually, but he really sounds like he nailed the accent and character. I know Terrence Dashon Howard is heated lol

  • Screen Nation | July 18, 2013 8:22 PMReply

    Love this!! A seminal role for Idris and love the bravery of the casting with Naomie Harris. Looks like a pretty decent job all round by the Brits.

  • Legacy Film | July 19, 2013 10:56 PM


    You can't type cast Idris, he's got much more latitude than people often credit , as has Naomie And accents....

    ...Jamaican, in One Love, American in The Wire (lots of people never realised he was British), bringing it back home in Luther, and now South African in Mandela...he's got it nailed as far as we're concerned.

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