On December 5th, the world said goodbye to Nelson Mandela, one of the truly great leaders of the 20th century.
The freedom fighter who fought tirelessly against a racist government regime, only to be imprisoned for 27 years on a barren island, and to be elected president just four years after being released, is the stuff of fairy tales — but all of it incredibly true. Not only was Mandela’s journey the stuff of legends, but it made for good theater as well. So it should come as no surprise that Nelson Mandela’s rise from prisoner to president has been adopted numerous times on the big screen and Mandela himself portrayed by a variety of actors. Here’s a list of a few of them starting with the most recent.
“Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom” (2013)
Mandela portrayed by Idris Elba
Mandela portrayed by Terrence Howard
Mandela portrayed by Morgan Freeman
“The Color of Freedom
Mandela portrayed by Dennis Haysbert
“Mandela and de Klerk
Mandela portrayed by Sidney Poitier
When I think back to some of the more inspiring and intriguing movies that I’ve seen these last 10-15 years, they’ve all left me wondering to some degree. It could be about the characters, plot development, scene structure, or any other particular overarching themes. “To Sir, With Love 2” left me thinking about not only the importance of teaching, but the type of person depicted to lead a classroom.
“To Sir, With Love 2” was a former Movie of the Month of mine back in July 2003. It stars one of the legendary names in Hollywood cinema, one Sidney Poitier. Poitier was also the star of the original “To Sir, With Love,” which took place in an inner-city London school in the mid-1960s. While the first “To Sir, With Love” was released in 1967, the sequel would not come out until 1996. I can’t recall another series of movies where the sequel came out nearly 30 years following the original.
Unlike Joe Clark in “Lean on Me,” or the motorcycle riding take-no-prisoners Rick Latimer in the 1987 movie “The Principle,” Poitier’s character is far more reserved and tactful. It seems surprising at first that a man who just retired from 30 years of teaching in England, would welcome the duty of educating the toughest students in a nondescript Chicago public school. However, Poitier’s character, Mark Thackeray, does just that.
Thackeray challenges his students to not only think about what makes them who they are, but also consider that they ultimately determine other people’s perceptions about themselves. Now that’s not to say there aren’t some real problems his students are facing, but Thackeray refuses to allow them to use outside influences as an excuse. The entire movie is actually on Youtube and I’ve included some of the more poignant clips below.