Movie Details

Described as a "biographical drama," the made-for-TV Mandela is the story of South African human-rights advocate Nelson Mandela, who at the time this film was made was in the 25th year of a prison sentence. Covering the years 1948 to 1987, the film traces Mandela's (Danny Glover) matriculation from young lawyer to fervent anti-Apartheid political activist. At first a proponent of nonviolence, Mandela is radicalized after the Sharpeville massacre of 1960. Thrown in jail by the white-dominated government in 1962, Mandela passes the cudgel to his wife Winnie (Alfre Woodard), who perseveres despite constant persecution from the powers-that-be. Understandably concentrating on Mandela's private life, the film is somewhat wanting in terms of personal glimpses, but this is a forgivable creative lapse. Likewise excusable is the partisan nature of Ronald Harwood's teleplay. Filmed on location in Zimbabwe, Mandela originally ran 139 minutes when it first aired September 20, 1977 over the HBO Cable service; it was subsequently shortened to 135 minutes when shown on network television. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi