Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Getting to know Nelson Mandela

Sometimes you just luck out in funny ways. As it happened, Two had double booked herself and before she knew she was traveling to Krakow with Olive, while also having bought movie tickets to the new Nelson Mandela movie called "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

Instead of wasting the tickets she asked if I wanted them (which I did, after asking her what it was about, since I'd never heard of it...I'm slowly starting to lose my touch with the movie industry, sad as that is), and emailed me all of the appropriate information. I just needed to find a date to come with me and make it a night. A Monday night.

Naturally I asked Churches. We work at the same place and the movie time was surprisingly early (starting call was at 5:45pm in the center of town, so would take us about 30 minutes to get there). She said definitely yes, as she'd heard about it and was interested, so that was settled.

We got there right on time and got in with no problems. Turns out it was a free screening of the movie that only card members are allowed to see (Two is one of these card members) and they sometimes overbook the screenings to ensure a full house. Glad we came early, because the theater was pretty full by the time the movie started.

And then we watched the life of Nelson Mandela.

I knew a few things about him - he was the president of South Africa. He helped overthrow the apartheid. He was in jail for a really long time. His wife stayed with him even though he was in jail that entire time. Beloved by all.

That was kind of it though. We did study him in school all those years ago but it's a relatively small section, mostly included because of its ties to colonialism and racism, which America covers extensively.

The movie went into much more detail about his life before he became the man that so many people know. How the movement gained momentum and he felt compelled to do something about it. It was powerful, seeing how much race was a differentiating factor in people's lives. Something that made you live comfortably or horribly unequal. The ability of someone to disrespect and blatantly overpower someone else, simply because of skin color.

I know I live in a time that is not completely past all these things, but I also know I've never lived in a truly racist time. Not in this way.

Again I'll admit that I know not much about his life and what he had to go through, but the way the movie portrayed it, it almost looks like his jail time wasn't that bad after awhile. I'm pretty sure that was a prettied up version for the movies. I guess the way I viewed it was how it is in The Shawshank Redemption - you have your friends around you, so maybe life in prison doesn't seem so bad. At least you have company. It might even be a little easier to settle into things because there is no expectation.

Similarly, I was surprised at how negatively they portrayed his second wife, Winnie Mandela. They show her getting so caught up in the violence of the movement that she forgets what the fight was for in the first place, instead focusing on the anger she feels, the revenge she feels she needs to repay. Again, I don't know what this is like in real life, but I'm kind of impressed it went this way, especially since she's still alive. And went to the premiere. How awkward would that be. I guess no more awkward than Mark Zuckerberg going to see The Social Network and seeing himself portrayed as a selfish asshole. Some people are probably just cool with that.

All in all an enlightening movie and I'm glad I went to see it. Thanked Two profusely for the free viewing on her awesome membership.

Just another Monday night. And thanks for everything, Mr. Mandela.

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