by John Dear
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or background or religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
That quote concludes the new movie “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” It’s a fitting summation to a powerful film that I urge everyone to see.
Of course, it’s an enormous undertaking to boil Nelson Mandela’s epic life down to a two-hour film. That’s why there’s never been a movie about Martin Luther King Jr. Many have tried and failed. “Gandhi” succeeded because Richard Attenborough worked on the script for 20 years. Then he found the best actors and shot every scene with meticulous detail, even getting a million people to recreate Gandhi’s funeral march. It’s still the best movie ever made, in my opinion. Go and watch that, too.
I know some reviewers found the script for the Mandela film a bit plodding. Some dismissed it as a typical TV biopic. I think “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” is excellent and inspiring. Idris Elba as Mandela and Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela are extraordinary. And in my book, time spent meditating on the lives of great peacemakers and justice-seekers is always time well spent.
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” takes us through his long life — the opening scenes of his tribal boyhood in Qunu, where he was buried last month; his first marriage, law practice and early home life in Soweto; his growing involvement with the African National Congress (ANC); his rejection of nonviolence; his leadership with the ANC military wing; his eventual arrest and trial, and the threat of the death penalty…