Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

On so many levels, the Mandela film released his week fulfils my criteria of Film of the Year. It's squeezed in at neatly the end of the year, but it knocks all other contenders way out of the field.

Emotionally, this is a great film. Its London premiere coincided with the death of the man himself and I was watching it while his funeral took place.

Biographically and historically, the film documents an incredible life, including 27 years in one of the toughest prisons anywhere in the world. The inclusion of stills and footage from parts of the story made it so real. At one point, I couldn't quite believe that Nelson Mandela was unaware of the huge outrage that his continued incarceration was causing around the world. It was so good to see his daughter take one of the button badges in to show him on her first visit.

The locations are simply stunning. But then, South Africa IS a stunning country. The sooner the politics get sorted and the tourism becomes easier, the better.

The costumes, too, were beautiful and helped document the passing of time. Combine that with the prosthetics and you've certainly got some well-deserved Oscar nominations.

One of the things that struck me while watching the film was the fact that Mandela was a man, a son, a father and a grandfather. He may have also been legendary, but he was a real man nonetheless. That came over very clearly and was a nice balance to what might otherwise have degenerated into hero-worship.

I've never been comfortable with the development of Winnie Mandela's violence and the director made it clear that a woman who was brutalised simply because of who she fell in love with and married had little choice but to respond brutally. The fact that this moved her so far from that same man and his beliefs was a tragedy. Her terrible treatment at the hands of the authorities may not be an excuse for the violence that followed, but it was certainly a reason.

One way or another, Mandela gets my vote as Film of 2013. Nothing else I have seen comes close in completeness.

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