Only a week after the release of an evocative-but-uninformative teaser, the upcoming biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom has received a full-length trailer that shows off the narrative meat of the film. The well-photographed preview follows Idris Elba (Pacific Rim) as he portrays legendary South African political leader Nelson Mandela’s rise to lead the struggle against the racist apartheid system of South Africa – a struggle that would lead him to decades in prison, followed by becoming the first black President of that nation.
For some, Mandela remains a controversial figure – and this preview certainly does not dissemble about his somewhat checkered past. It fully portrays that – after years of nonviolent resistance brought no results – Mandela and his movement turned to acts of destructive sabotage to hamstring the South African government. In addition to some hints at his troubled marriage to Winnie Madikizela, it’s looking as if Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom won’t be a pure hagiography of an otherwise beloved public figure.
Though Elba has gained accolades for his acting for over a decade, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom represents his first full-on prestige role. Able to easily swing between neurotic self-doubt (as in Luther), cold and menacing calculation (The Wire), and swaggering braggadocio (a la Prometheus), Elba is a tremendous talent – and there are already whispers that Mandela could be his big Oscar moment.
Though this preview shows plenty of the film, it doesn’t give us much of an idea of how Elba will approach the iconic role outside of a few excerpted Big Speeches. We at Screen Rant are looking forward to finding out whether he’ll be under consideration come award season – or if Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom will be another missed opportunity.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) from a script by William Nicholson (Les Miserables). In addition to Elba, the film stars Naomie Harries (Skyfall) as his wife Winnie, Robert Hobbs (District 9), and Theo Landey (Generation Kill), among others.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom will stride into US theaters on November 29th, 2013. It will open in the UK on January 3rd, 2014.