Celebrate the 90th birthday this week of one of history’s greatest leaders, Nelson Mandela, with one of the fine films about his extraordinary perseverance, vision, courage, and leadership. The story of the massive social change he achieved without violence is profoundly moving and inspiring and one that all families should understand and discuss. Perhaps his greatest contribution is the notion of reconciliation and forgiveness rather than retribution and punishment, a lesson the world will need to recover from its current conflicts.
The documentary, Mandela: Son of Africa, Father of a Nation follows Mandela from his early years as one of nine children of a polygamist father assigned the name “Nelson” by a teacher instead of his tribal name to his 27 years in prison, his election to the Presidency of South Africa and the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. The made-for-television Mandela & De Klerk (PG-13 for disturbing images of political violence) has Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine as Mandela and his co-Nobel awardee F.W. de Klerk. Both are outstanding.