Nelson Mandela (Danny Glover), a black lawyer in South Africa, becomes an activist in the African National Congress in 1948. He recruits volunteers for a Defiance Campaign involving nonviolent disobedience to apartheid laws restricting the activities of nonwhites. His protest work continues throughout the 1950s. Mandela marries Winnie (Alfre Woodard) who is a social worker. After he is brought to trial and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964, Winnie carrries on his struggle against racial injustice. She faces police harassment, imprisonment and forced separation from her husband.
This stirring and informative drama gives a good overview of the black struggle for freedom in South Africa. At the same time, it is a touching personal story. Writer Ronald Harwood has explained, "I'm always interested in people who become symbols. And I'm curious to know what such people are like as ordinary men and women, beneath the trappings we're bestowed upon them." Philip Saville directs Mandela, which offers an intimate portrait of a married couple whose love for each other matches their extraordinary commitment to their cause.