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To be experienced

To be experienced
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Highlights

To be experienced, Nelson Mandela, Justin Chadwick, DeKock robbery. By this time his first wife has left him and he woos Winnie Madicozela (Naomi Harris), a social worker. A “cute proposal” ensues and before long they are married.

We know that Nelson Mandela is one of the greatest freedom fighters of the 20th Century and that he achieved it against Apartheid is even more creditable. Also, director Justin Chadwick does an excellent job of recreating history with its diverse anecdotes that brings one face to face with the reality, however, harsh it may be.

But Chadwick could easily have reduced the fare by 20 minutes. But the gradual change is both well orchestrated and palpable. We first have two instances to show how white the law was. Mrs DeKock robbery is one and the other is the black beaten to death and pronounced death by syphilis.

The scant respect the white cops and judges paid to truth and law has to be seen to be believed. But the picture changes ever so gradually when Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba), called “trouble-maker” by his dad, enters such a scenario. In due time, he is approached by the African National Congress (ANC) who convinces him “together we have power.” It is a partnership that endures throughout his life though differences do crop up now and then.

By this time his first wife has left him and he woos Winnie Madicozela (Naomi Harris), a social worker. A “cute proposal” ensues and before long they are married.

The struggle against the Apartheid is now in full swing with Mandela and his colleagues sent to prison in Robben Island where the white officers taunt them relentlessly. There are rare visits by his family, first his wife Winnie and then his daughter Zinzi, both very sensitively handled. Choked with emotion, Zinzi takes time to utter a word but later gains courage to tell the guard she is not talking politics.

The imaginative screenplay is dotted with wit like Mandela saying he prefers Sophia Loren to Elizabeth Taylor. There are other asides but when black anger takes over after 1990 Mandela is forced to firmly opt for peace and in the process has to break away from Mandela.

It is a chequered path they have to tread and a long walk indeed for our hero which can be compared to that of Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa. The ageing of Mandela is beautifully handled by the make-up team. So are the sets.

Idris Elba is excellent in the lead role. He is ably supported Naomi Harris, especially in the latter half. There is also a good cameo by Tony Kgorge as one of the supporters in this compelling drama. It is a real-life experience. Don’t miss it.

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