Starring: Jennifer Hudson, Terrence
Howard, Elias Koteas, Wendy
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 107 minutes
Distributor: Image Entertainment
Director: Darrell Roodt
Executive Producer: Ellen S. Wander, Katinka
Schuman, Basil Ford, Philisiwe
Buthelezi, Hlengiwe Makhatini
Producer: André Pieterse, Michael Mosca
Writer: Andre Pieterse, Darrell Roodt,
Paul Ian Johnson
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Winnie was born in 1934 in a small native South African village. Her father was very disappointed because he wanted a son, not another girl. She tries to be a son to him and even engages in fighting the boys with fighting sticks, which women are not supposed to do.
Winnie goes off to Johannesburg in 1953 to study and get a degree in social work. The police are violently repressing the African community. Nelson Mandela sees her and it’s love at first sight. She comes from a strong church background, and they have a church wedding in her village, with the police watching.
Soon thereafter, the police trash her home and threaten Nelson and Winnie, because Nelson is an attorney who, according to the movie, is trying to get equal rights for the African community. In the 1960s, Nelson is sent to prison on Robben Island under trumped-up charges.
Soon, Winnie is arrested and put into solitary confinement for 200 days. When she comes out, she is hardened, cynical and self-centered.
South Africa is in the midst of a revolution. Gangs roam the streets. People are necklaced by having a tire put around their neck and burned alive. So, a group of men decide to form a football club to protect Winnie.
Eventually, the authorities release Nelson in 1990, but Winnie is not the same person he married. She has been involved in the killing of a young person, although she was never convicted. So, Nelson is told by the ANC leadership that he has to divorce her if he wants to become president of the country. Years later, she apologizes somewhat at a reconciliation hearing, and her reputation is slightly rehabilitated.
WINNIE MANDELA is a beautifully produced movie. The opening shots of Africa are awe-inspiring. The acting is professional, although Jennifer Hudson does not grow sufficiently in her character.
It is surprising that there’s so little foul language in the movie, but it’s just enough to move it into the extreme caution category, especially when combined with some very violent moments. This is not a story for children.
That said, WINNIE MANDELA is a movie about reconciliation, it does lift up Jesus Christ somewhat, and it rebukes violent, illegal and evil behavior. For those of us who lived through the era, and read a lot about South Africa, the movie avoids discussing some of the deeper political issues. The charges of communism are dismissed as the ravings of the mean-spirited police inspector. The necklacings are not directly attributed to Winnie. Therefore, the history is still being written about what actually happened.
However, as a story of a struggle for freedom and personal rehabilitation, WINNIE MANDELA is a movie that deserves an audience.
WINNIE MANDELA is a beautifully filmed movie. The acting is professional, although Jennifer Hudson does not grow sufficiently in her character. The opening shots of Africa are awe-inspiring. The movie warrants strong caution because of brief foul language and some graphic, but brief, violence. That said, WINNIE MANDELA ultimately is an inspiring movie about reconciliation. It lifts up Jesus Christ and rebukes violent, illegal, and evil behavior.