Lives That Changed the World: Nelson Mandela
Imprisoned 27 years for standing up for what he believed, Nelson Mandela persevered and was miraculously able to galvanize the world around his struggle to end apartheid ... even from behind bars at South Africa's brutal and remote Robben Island prison. Released in 1990, Mandela entered a world profoundly shaped by his dream, his homeland now one of multi-racial democracy. Against a backdrop of historical footage, this Nobel Peace Prize winner's own story is told through the eyes of 10 people who were there, who were inspired by his vision, who are a legacy of his epic quest.
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It is only natural then, that Mandela should be counted amongst the Lives That Changed the World in Smithsonian Networks release this month of their 2007 documentary of his life on DVD. Lives That Changed the World: Nelson Mandela is a 45-minute homage to the man who was so instrumental in building peace in the apartheid-torn country of South Africa.
Having inspired countless individuals with his journey from terrorist to Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Mandela's personal influence on ten people is explored alongside historical footage in this exploration of his life's impact. Among these individuals are his daughter Zindzi, who spent her formative years apart from her father due to his imprisonment, his former prison guard, a South African musician who was influenced by Mandela's revolutionary vision, a Canadian schoolteacher who shares about the impact of Mandela's release on his teaching, and others. Perhaps the most touching however is the testimony of Adriaan Vlok, former minister of law and order during apartheid rule.
Vlok shares his experiences seeking forgiveness and reconciliation for his sins both publicly and privately - the only apartheid-era minister to do so. His humble and heartfelt thoughts on the process of reconciliation brought me to tears.
The DVD features a standard scene selection menu, stereo and surround sound audio options, and optional English subtitles. The compact running time of Nelson Mandela makes it an easy-to-schedule supplementary learning opportunity for Black History Month for junior and senior high students. Younger children may be disturbed by the historical footage of the civil unrest and violent governmental retribution that took place in South Africa.
How can such a man's life be measured within the span of a brief documentary? Simply put, it can't be. Nelson Mandela does not touch upon Mandela's early life, nor does it speak to his relational ties with any apart from those interviewed in the film. As such, the DVD can't be considered a true biography. What we can glimpse however, is a part of what Nelson Mandela has meant to this world, and pass on his vision of peaceful equality to our own children.