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Film review

Mandela portrayed as an epic figure but no saint

From left, Idris Elba, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa and Thapelo Mokoena are seen in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” Elba plays the title character, late South African President Nelson Mandela.
Photographer: The Weinstein Co.
From left, Idris Elba, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa and Thapelo Mokoena are seen in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” Elba plays the title character, late South African President Nelson Mandela.
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Due to a sad accident of history, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” arrives as not just a biography of the late leader but a memorial. Nelson Mandela’s recent death has burdened this conventional, high-minded, rather pedestrian movie with an unsought mantle of significance.

The scope of the film is vast, from Mandela’s youth as a rhetorical and literal bomb-thrower, through his 27 years of imprisonment, his release, and his election as president of the ...

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