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Film Studies 101
Feature
Nelson Mandela: His Movie Legacy
How the former president interacted with, and was portrayed by, cinema...

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Former South African president and icon of freedom and forgiveness Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95. While his world only occasionally intersected with that of the cinema, he left a lasting impression, and his fascinating, eventful life is one that filmmakers have attempted to chronicle more than once...

WORDS JAMES WHITE
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MANDELA: ACTOR

Only one filmmaker convinced Mandela to be anything but himself on camera: that was Spike Lee for Malcolm X. Mandela has a cameo as a Soweto teacher who recites some of the civil rights leader’s famous “By any means necessary” speech. Though crucially, he wouldn’t speak the final four words that gave the speech its name, worried that the then-government of South Africa would take it as a violent call to arms. Lee agreed to cut in archive footage of X himself saying the line, and Mandela got his sole acting credit.

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