British thesp Idris Elba has already proven that he is more than capable of taking on meaty, emotionally complex roles with his Golden Globe-winning performance on BBC’s dark police drama Luther, but the actor still has a lot riding on his next part: a highly-anticipated lead role in Justin Chadwick’s biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
The Harvey Weinstein-backed film, out in limited release on November 29th, charts the rise of anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela (Elba) as he struggles against injustice in South Africa. Naomie Harris also stars as his devoted wife, Winnie Mandela. Promotional material for the film so far has painted it as as a celebration of Mandela’s human rights victories which does not shy away from the darker, grittier side of his political career as well as his time behind bars.
Though Oscar buzz for Elba has followed the film since its first trailers, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom received a surprisingly lukewarm response at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it premiered last weekend. It’s likely that the film’s bungled, solitary press screening time (delayed from the early afternoon on Saturday until 10:15 p.m. that night) did not endear it to the few critics who stuck it out in order to catch the 152-minute movie, but the less-than-glowing reviews for the movie throw the likelihood of an Oscar campaign for Elba into question. The footage we’ve seen of him so far has been terrific however, so I’d imagine any mistakes the film makes are with its screenplay or direction.
A new international trailer has surfaced online for the film, focusing heavily on Mandela’s time in prison, and you can check it out below:
The trailer spends a lot of time highlighting Mandela’s stirring speeches and violent protests but less time on his motivations, though the fact that it focuses on flashier, more action-packed aspects of the film doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the filmmakers have a lot of story to sell and only a small amount of time to appeal to audiences. Hopefully the finished product won’t make the mistake of downplaying Mandela’s personality and tormented mind in order to spend more time on the kinds of protest scenes that the trailer features heavily.
Two pictures were also released from the film, which you can view below.
Are you excited to see Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, or has your tolerance for biopics been worn down by recent efforts like Lincoln, The Iron Lady and My Week with Marilyn? And was casting a particularly strong actor like Elba who has little resemblance to Mandela a good move or not? Let us know in the comments!
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom opens November 29th.