Saturday, June 21, 2008


Author: Alex
Location: Washington State


Directed by Bennett Miller
Written by Paul Haggis
Music by John Williams

Principal Cast:

Robert Guillaume (Nelson Mandela)
Ed Harris (Frederick Willem de Klerk)
James Earl Jones (Desmond Tutu)
Omar Sharif (Muammar al-Gaddafi)
Martin Sheen (Joe Slovo)
Michael Caine (John Major)

Tagline: "Behind every prison number is a brave man"

Synopsis: Nelson Mandela (Robert Guillaume) was born in the remote South African village of Qunu; an excellent student, Mandela went on to become a lawyer and then a political activist with the African National Congress, a political party who sought to bring down South Africa's Apartheid regime, in which the minority white population denied the most basic political and civil rights to the nation's black citizens. Mandela's vocal opposition of the South African government (and his refusal to repudiate violence as a response to the brutality inflicted upon blacks) resulted in his spending 27 years at hard labor in prison -- and in time led to his release, the legitimization of the ANC, and his election as South Africa's first black president. “46664” is a biopic that traces Mandela's story from his birth to his status as a respected political leader, featuring footage that records the turbulent past of both Mandela and his nation.

What the press would say:

This is one of the better biopics that I have seen in awhile covering anybody. Producing a documentary on Nelson Mandela is a rather formidable undertaking, and I believe that the filmmakers prove to be up to the task.

The film portrays Nelson Mandela (Robert Guillaume) not as a saint, but as a human being -- yes sometimes egotistical, but steadfast throughout his struggle. One of the most memorable parts of the film (edited marvelously) for me was the section describing the Sharpeville massacre (including actual footage) and how this event was key in turning Mandela from non-violence to armed struggle. Also powerful is the coverage of Mandela's first trial on treason. Not only is footage woven in with footage that the fight against apartheid in South Africa was not merely a black versus white struggle.

The struggle, in fact, encompassed a number of different ethnicities -- even Afrikaners. There is a fair share of South African music throughout the film, and I believe that it helps to punctuate the emotions of the time and bring the viewer closer to the subjects of the film. One of my favorite parts of the film is that of Mandela's interaction (or sometimes, lack of) with other leaders such as Mandela’s predecessor as President and co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize Frederick Willem de Klerk (Ed Harris), Bishop Desmond Tutu (James Earl Jones), Muammar al-Gaddafi (Omar Sharif), the leader of the South African Communist Party Joe Slovo (Martin Sheen), and British Prime Minister John Major (Michael Caine). Overall, this film is far better than most biopics (and I have seen my fair share of bad ones!)

Best Picture
Best Director: Miller
Best Actor: Guillaume
Best Supporting Actor: Harris
Best Supporting Actor: Jones
Best Supporting Actor: Sharif
Best Supporting Actor: Sheen
Best Supporting Actor: Caine
Best Original Screenplay: Haggis
Best Score: Williams

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