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Blu-ray Reviewer
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: Anchor Bay - 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 141 minutes
Genre: Drama/Biopic

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Lindiwe Matshikiza
Directed by: Justin Chadwick
Music by: Alex Heffes
Written by: William Nicholson based on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography “Long walk to freedom”
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 18, 2014
"It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die"

Film Synopsis:

Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary journey to becoming one of history’s most iconic figures is brought to life in MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM. “Idris Elba powerfully conveys Mandela's charisma and impassioned dedication” (Claudia Puig, USA TODAY) as a political leader and human rights advocate. The film chronicles his early life, education, marriage to Winnie Mandela (Naomie Harris) and 27 year prison sentence before becoming South Africa’s first democratically elected president and working to rebuild the country’s once segregated society.

My Take:

Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant 1990 release from 27 years of imprisonment, Mandela was steadfastly at the center of one of the most compelling and inspiring political dramas in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa's antiapartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He was recognized the world over as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality.

Mandela: Long walk to freedom is based on his 1995 autobiography, and depicts his early life through to his elected presidency. It tells an inspirational story of epic struggles, setbacks, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph. I watched the film with my wife and while we had some knowledge of the horrific events that transpired and how that correlated to Nelson Mandela’s early life our familiarity with the details was limited. The film was illuminating in terms of seeing Mandela as a young man, activist and prisoner and how the evolution of the events shaped him. Seeing the hardening of Winnie Mandela and her subsequent role in the movement was both enlightening and interesting as I didn’t realize the scope of her involvement and impact.

The film takes a mildly candid and noticeably respectful snapshot of a very broad subject. At two hours and twenty minutes with a lot of ground to cover it moves along fairly briskly for the most part although there are times when the pacing slows. The scope of the production and the work that went into creating the timelines, make-up etc is quite good. The cast as a whole is solid but it’s the performances of Idris Elba and Noamie Harris that standout. I am not so sure that the film lives up to its subject but there is no denying director Justin Chadwick’s devotion to bringing it to the big screen with deserving reverence. I enjoyed Mandela: Long walk to freedom and appreciated the significance of its telling especially in light of Nelson Mandela’s recent passing.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for some intense sequences of violence and disturbing images, sexual content and brief strong language.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 86

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency effects:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

  • *Low frequency extension (non-rated element):

Video: 100

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

Mandela: Long walk to freedom comes to Blu-ray Disc from Starz/Anchor Bay featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 Mbps.

This biopic film looks excellent on Blu-ray Disc and features glossy high definition video quality that exhibit high level detail, razor sharpness and exquisite definition that brings out lifelike textures captured by the camera’s lens. Dimensional perspective has a near infinite appeal that can be visually stimulating. Close ups are noticeably refined and revealing of the subtlest details within facial features and objects within the frame. Mid level camera pans are equally enriching and offer excellent depth and dimension. Colors are appreciably delineated with natural rendering and punchy primaries that stand out among the remaining spectrum of secondary hues. Fleshtones are rendered with vivid tonality and discerning complexional depiction. Contrast is boldly applied without overstatement as it enlivens colors and drives whites without washing away detail. Blacks are rich, gradationally strong and dynamic which makes them pop nicely during sequences containing a mix of light and dark elements. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments reveal visible shapes and structure in backgrounds. This is a pristine encoding and reference quality presentation that looks great.

This isn’t an active soundtrack per se but the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio presentation is quite good. Dialogue reproduction is excellent (although occasionally the accents used impeded understanding, which isn’t attributable to the surround mix) as it effectively blended with the front three channels. Imaging and sound effects reproduction are first rate as the sound field in the front of the room bristles with sonic detail. The surrounds are primarily utilized for atmospheric presence however discernible discrete audio cues are effectively mixed in where appropriate. Dynamic range is noteworthy which lends solidity and weight to the audio in general. Low frequency detail is appropriately implemented and engages nicely during several integral sequences. I found that the mix highlights the strengths of the source material and makes for a sneaky good listening experience.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentary with director Justin Chadwick

  • (HD) Mandela: The leader you know, the man you didn’t – 22 minute featurette

  • (HD) Production featurettes (4 segments):
    1. Production design – 6 minutes
    2. Costumes & make-up – 9 minutes
    3. Special effects – 7 minutes
    4. Music & sound – 7 minutes
  • (HD) Tribute video gallery (7 segments):
    1. Dan Rather
    2. Al Gore
    3. Robin Roberts
    4. CCH Pounder
    5. John Legend
    6. Tom Brokaw
    7. Jean Carlson
  • Bonus DVD

  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on his 1995 autobiography of the same name Mandela: Long walk to freedom paints a stirring and poignant portrait of one of history’s most iconic figures. While its lofty goals don’t quite live up to the scope of its subject there is plenty of merit to be found in the performances and production elements. It comes to Blu-ray from Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment featuring resplendent high definition video, involving lossless surround sound and a fair supplemental package that offers a glimpse behind the scenes and light details about the film’s subject. If you’re a fan this is a recommended buy otherwise I would start with a rental. Either way Mandela: Long walk to freedom on Blu-ray is a film that is well worth your time.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector

(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal )

Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System

Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier

Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)

Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

2,843 Posts
The BD trailers video looked incredible. I'm not surprised that it scored a 100. I'll be picking up this on Tuesday for sure.

Have you seen Winnie Mandela also on BD Ralph?


845 Posts
I have to add this one to my queue.

As someone who enjoys learning a bit of history, sociology and anthropology, the complexities of South Africa's history often is missed. Hopefully, this film gives at least one meaningful perspective and places Mandela in his rightful and honoured position in history without needing to 'icon-ize' him. This one looks potentially like a keeper. Thanks Ralph for the heads up.

Blu-ray Reviewer
15,476 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Originally Posted by Tom Monahan  /t/1521268/mandela-long-walk-to-freedom-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24447713

The BD trailers video looked incredible. I'm not surprised that it scored a 100. I'll be picking up this on Tuesday for sure.

Have you seen Winnie Mandela also on BD Ralph?



I haven't seen it Tom. Is it worth checking out?


2,843 Posts
Reviews were not the best but I really enjoyed it. PQ was pretty darn good as well.
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