Archive for the ‘Justin Chadwick’ Category

Farewell to an Icon

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

 mandela_long_walk_to_freedom

Director: Justin Chadwick

Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Terry Pheto, Riaad Moosa, Jamie Bartlett, Deon Lotz, Seelo Maake, Garth Breytenbach, Kgosi Mongake

British born director of The Other Boleyn Girl Justin Chadwick brings to the big screen Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom with the assistance of Durban based producer Anant Singh and international stars Idris Elba (Pacific Rim) and Naomie Harris (Skyfall). The timing of this film couldn’t have been more perfect or more poignant with the recent death of Nelson Mandela the Leader of the ANC and the first black South African president making international headlines. Mandela’s passing actually occurred during the British premiere of the film in London on the evening of Thursday 5th December 2013.

Leaving politics or current affairs aside, is Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom worth watching? The answer is a definitive yes especially so for the generation of young South Africans that will be able to vote in the 2014 national elections. But also for those viewers who didn’t realize just how close South Africa came in the early 1990’s to a fully fledged near civil war as the leaders at the time including Mandela and F.W. de Klerk were negotiating a relatively smooth transition from an authoritarian Apartheid state to a country that South Africa has become today, progressive and internationally hailed and supposedly democratic.

bang_bang_club

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is primarily an historical drama but also a love story between Mandela and his second wife Winnie Madikizela Mandela who is brilliantly played by Naomie Harris. Idris Elba does a superb job portraying such an iconic leader who went from political prisoner to President of a nation. Director Chadwick who also made the superb Kenyan film The First Grader, crafts an ambitious narrative whilst leaving all the burning issues as emotive and significant as ever showing a particular period of South African history that of the 1990’s similar to the 2010 film The Bang Bang Club, which was plagued with optimism, racism, militarism and brutal political violence.

Upon his release from prison in 1990, Mandela choose a path of negotiated discussion with the then nationalist government headed by F. W. de Klerk, which makes that pivotal time in South African history so interesting and integral to the development of the rainbow nation as it is affectionately known today. The film follows Mandela’s early days in Johannesburg in the 1940’s right through the Rivonia trials and to his eventual incarceration on Robben Island and his historic and subsequent release.

Producer Singh has a knack for acquiring high profile stars for his films, so the signing of Elba and Harris in the lead roles of Long Walk to Freedom is crucial to the film’s success. The fact that both stars portray such political leaders so poignantly and powerfully is too their credit and will surely be acknowledged during the 2014 award season. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is long, at times difficult to watch if you are fully versed in South Africa’s turbulent and extraordinary history, but stands on its own as a cinematic tribute to an iconic leader who has now been immortalized in all spheres of South African society from Sport and Commerce to Politics and Art.

This film is probably at times too long but is certainly recommend viewing for superb acting and lovers of historical political dramas. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom also stars South African comedian Riaad Moosa (Material) as Ahmed Kathrada and Terry Pheto of Tsotsi fame as Evelyn Mase.

How to capture a King…

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl is a faithful and condensed film adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s engrossing novel about Mary and Anne Boleyn, the sisters whose fateful and tragic involvement in King Henry VIII, not only changed the course of the British monarchy, but also established a Tudor dynasty.

In the wake of similar films and series about this fascinating and intriguing period of English history, namely the raunchy TV series The Tudors and the most recent sequel to Elizabeth, Shekhar Kapur’s lavish Elizabeth, the Golden Age, The Other Boleyn Girl, may not appear as spectacular but was certainly as entertaining for anyone who has a keen interest in the historical events of the sixteenth century. The equally talented Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman take the roles of sisters Mary and Anne Boleyn respectively. Johansson reprising her doleful yet stoical performance similar to her earlier role as Vermeer’s muse in Girl with a Pearl Earring, while Portman is splendidly belligerent and regal as Anne Boleyn, capturing the self-important air of an ambitious Queen, reminiscent of her portrayal of the young Queen Amidala in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.

While the intrigues of the British monarchy some four hundred years ago, may not appeal to everyone’s taste, first time film director Justin Chadwick swiftly moulds The Other Boleyn Girl into a fast-paced, costume drama, filled with ruthless Dukes, and unforgiving nobility, who centre their power-hungry plans on King Henry VIII, a despotic and fickle monarch, whose attentions dangerously shift from his Queen, to his mistresses and who eventually become notoriously famous for, discarding, wedding and even beheading many of his six wives. Monogamy was never his strongest feature.

King Henry VIII, such a mythical figure in the annuls of British history has been portrayed by many onscreen, so it is with obvious difficulty that the Australian actor, Eric Bana had in capturing the essence of this potent King’s spoilt and almost tyrannical character. His efforts do not go unnoticed, however, Bana fails to reflect the truly conflicted nature of Henry as the complex ruler he was. While the novel of The Other Boleyn Girl fills one with all the intricate details of his splendid court and the complex relations within the Boleyn family, whereby woman were used as pawns to further a family’s status in the Kingdom, the film is given some grounding by a strong performance by Kristin Scott Thomas as the sisters mother, Lady Elizabeth, who is savagely critical of the manipulations of her brother, the sisters’ uncle, the influential Duke of Norfolk.

With the intelligent casting of such rising stars as Johansson and Portman, the film will hopefully appeal to a younger generation of viewers, in an effort to make history and royal courtship so infinitely attractive. After all, both sisters were barely out of their teens when their affairs with King Henry began, and they like everyone else fell prey to the whims of a supremely powerful figure, the equivalent to a modern day tyrant.

Sexy and lush menage a trois

Sexy and lush menage a trois

Eventually both sisters capture the King’s affections and lose them again, with disastrous consequences for one, and fortunate, yet ironic consequences for the other. Both the film and the novel of The Other Boleyn Girl are worth investing some effort in, demonstrating that while society has advanced considerably from the 1500s, we, as human beings are still driven by such forces as greed, ambition, lust and betrayal and unfortunately, even nowadays, tyrants still linger unhindered in forgotten regions of the world.

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