December 5, 2013 4:55 PM EST

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David Turnley spent 28 years photographing South Africa’s struggles of apartheid. Having documented the life of Nelson Mandela and his people, Turnley reflects for LightBox on his memories of Mandela on the day of his release from prison.

It's summer movie time again, and with the Cameron Diaz vehicle The Other Woman premiering Friday, it's time to see what Hollywood's take on 51 percent of the population will be this season. It's no secret that women aren't getting a fair share of worthwhile screen time in Hollywood: only 30 percent of all speaking roles belonged to women in 2013, even with huge hits starring women like Gravity and The Hunger Games. And summer tends to be the worst for women who are often relegated to playing a superhero's damsel in distress. But after The Heat's success last year, it looks like we're getting more women on screen—though that doesn't necessarily mean more nuanced women. I've gone through the trailers for the big summer films starring the fairer sex. (I skipped movies like 22 Jump Street and Godzilla due to the total lack of women in the trailer.) And, wherewith my "woman rating" for each movie as "good," "bad" or "ugly" based on the following factors: How prominently the woman is featured in the trailer How likely the movie looks based on the trailer to pass the Bechdel test—a handy metric that asks if two women talk to each other in a film about something other than a man How original the female role looks I have not seen any of these films, so I cannot judge them based on their quality. I also cannot predict if a movie like Walk of Shame is secretly a feminist manifesto that is being advertised as a movie full of prostitute jokes. I am basing my sexism analysis on the trailers alone. And full disclosure: I will see and likely enjoy many of the movies to which I gave "bad" or "ugly" ratings. The Other Woman (April 25) A romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton about three women who find out they are all dating (or married to) the same guy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlHMHLuJWbo Ruling: UGLY It's like they tried to write a script that violated the Bechdel test by stuffing as many blondes as possible in one movie and having them only talk about one (extremely sexy, plucked right from Game of Thrones) man the whole time. Sure, they're getting their vengeance, but can't they all just dump him? Does Cameron Diaz's high powered lawyer character have time for this? The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2) The next installment in Marvel's The Amazing Spider-Man series starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlM2CWNTQ84 Ruling: BAD I watched three different Spider-Man 2 trailers to find one where Emma Stone had more than one line to say. I was unsuccessful. At least in this trailer her and Peter have a "meaningful" interaction where he traps her with his web so she can't follow him into a dangerous situation and then she accidentally yells out his secret identity. Damsels in distress are so useless. Please, someone give Emma Stone an Easy A-like script again. Free her! Walk of Shame (May 2) A comedy about a news anchor doing a—you guessed it—walk of shame starring Elizabeth Banks and James Marsden https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A303btALnoM Ruling: UGLY Apparently every woman wearing a bandage dress has sex for money. I count six prostitution jokes in this single trailer. Pair that with the working-woman-learns-to-let-go-with-a-nice-guy cliché plot line, and you have yourself an "ugly" ranking. Belle (May 2) A biopic on Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the mixed-race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay who helped influence her uncle Lord Mansfield to pave the way for slavery's abolition in England. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wtdk6owFj2o Ruling: GOOD The movie shines a light on a strong young woman who changed history. Bonus: she has things on her mind other than love (though, this being 18th Century England, that Jane Austen-esque aspect is part of it too). X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23) The time-bending prequel/sequel to previous X-Men movies starring Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry and about a million other people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsjtg7m1MMM Ruling: BAD The X-Men franchise really lucked out signing Jennifer Lawrence on before she got too big. I imagine now she'll have an enhanced role in the ensemble film (she gets more air time than Halle Berry in the trailer, and Ellen Page is nowhere to be seen). Still, nothing in this trailer indicates that this movie will pass the Bechdel test. Plus, we can't forget that Lawrence's superhero "costume" is just a bunch of blue body paint. Maleficent (May 30) The untold story of the villain from Sleeping Beauty starring Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-XO4XiRop0 Ruling: GOOD Yes! More movies about women villains, please—especially if they're played by Angelina Jolie. Though Jolie action movies have been hit and miss in the past (Tomb Raider, Salt, Wanted), she's still the go-to women for such flicks. Let's hope this movie opens the doors for other female-driven blockbusters (Scarlett Johansson's Lucy could be a start) and a whole new genre of evil women movies. Edge of Tomorrow (June 6) Sort of like Groundhog Day meets War of the Worlds: in a battle against aliens, Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt discover that they're caught in a time loop: every time they die in battle, they wake up in the past and must fight again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vw61gCe2oqI Ruling: GOOD It's still a Tom Cruise action movie at heart. But Emily Blunt gets to wield a gun and train him in the art of killing off robots. She's even the one on that badass poster. She'll probably end up falling for him, but, hey, it's a step in the right direction. The Fault in Our Stars (June 6) A love story about two teens who meet in a cancer support group, starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ItBvH5J6ss Ruling: GOOD Pass the tissues, please. Every summer has to have a heart-wrenching, doomed romance, and who better to anchor this summer's than Hollywood's newest it-girl Shailene Woodley? Woodley is, by the way, growing into an awesome role model for young women. Tammy (July 2) After losing her job and finding out her husband had been cheating on her, Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) hits the road with her profane grandmother (Susan Sarandon). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEN-HRp1Kck Ruling: GOOD This could be the worst movie ever, but the fact that Hollywood decided to trust Melissa McCarthy to carry a movie without a male co-star like Jason Bateman or even a "hot" female co-star like Sandra Bullock is a good sign for things to come. (Not that Susan Sarandon isn't super sexy.) Of course, let's hope it's even funnier than The Heat or Bridesmaids—the funny female flicks that preceded it. Begin Again (July 4) A fired music business exec (Mark Ruffalo) "forms a bond" (read: helps professionally then probably falls in love with) a young singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTRCxOE7Xzc Ruling: BAD I'm ambivalent about this clichéd romance where a man who is a mess is rehabilitated by caring for a talented woman. But I downgraded this trailer to "bad" because Mark Ruffalo could be Keira Knightly's dad, reinforcing a greater trend of movies featuring older-guy, younger-girl couples—and never the other way around. Jupiter Ascending (July 18) A futuristic sci-fi flick starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THVFkk-sEus Ruling: BAD I really want to give Jupiter Ascending the benefit of the doubt and assume they'll eventually cut the Mila Kunis damsel-in-distress bit. This did come, after all, from the makers of the Matrix who gave us the badass Trinity character. Plus, Mila Kunis is literally the Queen of the Universe in the movie. And yet throughout the trailer, she's being rescued or kidnapped or falling from things. Let's hope for a twist ending. Sex Tape (July 25) A married couple's sex tape disappears into "the cloud," and they frantically search for it, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJTct8eHKYE Ruling: GOOD Say what you want about the premise—this isn't how "the cloud" works—or whether it was actually a good idea to do a Bad Teacher reunion with Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel. At least Segel gets as naked as Diaz in the trailer (though Segel hasn't exactly been nudity shy before). Plus, they're equally dim-witted throughout the trailer, and that's all we ask for. So hooray for equality in stupidity! Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1) Marvel's first tongue-in-cheek superhero blockbuster featuring a talking raccoon and starring Christ Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89q_HH-3ghk Ruling: BAD I've decided we're past the point where we applaud superhero films just for having a woman in uniform instead of one in danger. That era ended with Black Widow in the Avengers films. Now, we have to hold superhero movies to a higher standard, and this trailer does not meet it. You have Zoe Saldana in your movie, and yet she doesn't get a line in the trailer? You even showed her topless without giving her lines? That's crazy! She's arguably the most famous (visible) person in this film. (The actual most famous but non-visible people are Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel voicing a raccoon and a tree, respectively.) Lucy (August 8) A sci-fi action movie starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVt32qoyhi0 Ruling: GOOD We've gotten a lot of fighting teen heroines lately: Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games and Shailene Woodley in Divergent. But we need a grown up version. With Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson proved she can be an action star. Now here's her shot to carry her own movie. And nobody gives a movie gravitas quite like Morgan Freeman. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August 22) The sequel to the crime noir action thriller Sin City, starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Alba and a dozen other celebrities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqRRF5y94uE Ruling: UGLY Almost every woman in this trailer is wearing only a bra or boustier or leather outfit—basically all things you can find in a sex shop.
Bottom image courtesy Chris Whipple

I go to sleep early on Feb. 10, 1990, as the next day will be one of the most important historic days of my career. I receive a call from a dear friend and photojournalist colleague. He tells me that he is sorry to inform me but the South African photographers association has decided to make Nelson Mandela’s release from prison a pool event and that only five photographers would be allowed in front of the prison. I respond that, respectfully, I can guarantee him that I would be the next morning in front of that prison — this was a moment of importance for the whole world to see.

I arrive in front of Victor Verster prison with my twin brother photojournalist Peter Turnley at 5:30 am the next morning. A handful of our colleagues also arrive. We go to the two Afrikaaner Prison guards at the gates of the prison, introduce ourselves and ask for their help. We explain that this day is an important day for South Africa, and for the world to witness. We propose that they allow us to create a roped off area in front of the prison, where photojournalists from around the world would stand, and that we would make sure that the decorum of this event was respected. These prison guards decide that they too want to be magnanimous on this historic day, and give us the mandate to set up our area. Hundreds of photographers and reporters began to arrive, and as we explain our plan, everyone takes their one foot of space, where we stand shoulder to shoulder in anticipation for what would inevitably be just a few seconds that we will get to see Nelson Mandela before the crowds will break and obscure the next leader of South Africa.

Perhaps the best indicator of what the final two years of the Obama presidency will be like came Monday with the announcement that Obama had chosen W. Neil Eggleston as his White House counsel. A former lawyer for Bill Clinton’s White House, Eggleston continues a return of veterans of the 90’s like John Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri to the Obama team. More importantly from Obama’s point of view, Eggleston’s client list over the last 20 years includes top players in some of the messiest, highest-stakes fights in Washington. Eggleston represented two Clinton administration cabinet officials in corruption cases and Hillary Clinton’s close aide Cheryl Mills during the controversy over Bill Clinton’s pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich. He was Rahm Emanuel’s lawyer when former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was being investigated for selling Obama’s vacated Senate seat in 2008-9. It is his work during the Bush administration that offers the best foretaste of Obama’s final two years, however. During the scandal over the allegedly politically-motivated firing of U.S. prosecutors, Eggleston deftly represented Karl Rove’s aide and former White House political director, Sara Taylor, in negotiations over her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Eggelston was also hired by Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, during the lobbying scandal surrounding Jack Abramoff. Reed served as a pass-through for money from Abramoff’s Indian tribal clients, and Abramoff asked Reed to arrange access to Karl Rove early in the Bush presidency. Once Congress began investigating Abramoff, Reed hired Eggleston to represent him as he cooperated with the Congressional inquiry. The Obama administration has faced a number of Congressional investigations over the years, including an ongoing one by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa into alleged politically motivated behavior at the IRS. Issa's committee has charged a mid-level IRS official with contempt of Congress for refusing to testify on Fifth Amendment grounds. Issa previously charged Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt for refusing to provide documents in the Fast and Furious case. Last week, Issa announced he was probing the U.S. Census Bureau's decision to revise questions regarding health insurance coverage, saying the adjustments "could be used in misleading arguments about the coverage impact of the affordable care act." If Republicans win the Senate next year, such conflicts between the legislative and executive branches are sure to increase. With Eggleston, Obama will now have one of the best in the business on his end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
David Turnley

After approximately 11 hours of holding our ground, at 4:20pm with t.v. helicopters whirring overhead, we see an entourage making its way towards the prison gate. Adrenaline surged — suddenly the prison gate opened, and marching towards us is Nelson Mandela, fist in the air, holding Winnie’s hand, as roars sound around the world. I had time to make three frames in focus — the happiest three frames of my life — before the crowd breaks and Mandela’s motorcade heads towards the center of Capetown.

I drive frantically to keep up with their motorcade as it makes its way to Capetown an hour away. When the motorcade arrives, the crowd of more than one hundred thousand South Africans excitedly shakes Madiba’s car. The motorcade escapes the crowd and races away. For the first time, I felt that I might be crushed by a crowd. I climbed over the shoulders of this sea of humanity and make my way to the balcony of city hall. I felt the urgency that I was now out of position to see Madiba if he appears. I ran down the corridor of City Hall, looking for a window to peek out of.

In front of me I saw Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reverend Allan Boesak, Walter Sisulu, Madiba’s prison mate of 27 years, Jesse Jackson and a handful of others. I have landed serendipitously in the reception committee. They all know me and smile, telling me to come in and wait patiently.

The rival Palestinian factions agreed Wednesday on a reconciliation deal that would unite Hamas and Fatah amid sputtering peace talks between Israel and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. The agreement calls for a unity government within weeks, the BBC reports, seven years after the two factions violently split, with Hamas retaining control of the Gaza Strip and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority ruling in the West Bank. Earlier Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he would have to choose between peace with Israel or with Hamas, an Islamist militant group that rejects peace with Israel, Reuters reports. The U.S.-backed peace talks have stalled, with both sides defying terms of the negotiations ahead of the impending April 29 deadline that negotiators are trying to extend. The agreement reached Wednesday calls for general elections within six months of a vote of confidence by the Palestinian parliament, according to BBC. But past deals have fallen through before being implemented, including an Egyptian-brokered deal that fell apart over power sharing and relations with Israel. [BBC]
David Turnley

No one knows where Madiba has fled, and as the crowd outside screams with anticipation and euphoria, a phone rings. Tutu grabs the phone. It is Madiba explaining that they have driven outside of town, shaken by the surging crowd after sitting alone in a prison cell for 27 years. The archbishop says, “Baba [in South Africa xhosa, papa], you have to come and at least show your face or they will tear the city down tonight. And then following a silence, the Arch puts down the phone and smiles. “He’s coming.” Minutes later, unbeknownst to any of us including the crowd, he is driven to the rear of City Hall. The door opens and in walks Nelson Mandela. He greets each person in the room, with the charm and confidence of someone who has never been gone.

Madiba is tall and in unbelievable shape. His presence is so powerful. He gives everyone a bear hug. Smiles stretch across our faces. And Archbishop Tutu clings a glass with a spoon. Directly in front of Madiba, the crowd outside is frantic with excitement, unaware that Madiba is with us. Archbishop Tutu looks into Nelson’s eyes, and with tears streaming down his face, says, “I have to tell you what you have meant to my life….” And then each person in the room follows. Madiba stands proudly receiving each heartfelt word. It is as if you can palpably see the dignity of Nelson Mandela, of each second of 27 years, proudly and clearly contained to be ready for this moment. And then, he looks at all of us.

“You will have to forgive me. I have something I have to take care of.” He proceeds to walk to the window, stepping out onto the balcony to address his South African people, and the world, for the first time in almost three decades. As the sun sets, the Mandela family and friends stand at the window, everyone’s fists raised in the air, tears streaming down their cheeks as the crowd greets their leader with the African National Anthem Nikosi Sikelela. He finishes his speech with the same words that he spoke at the end of the treason trial that sent him to prison for life in 1964.


David Turnley is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Photography, the Robert Capa Gold medal for courage and two World Press Pictures of the Year. Turnley is highly recognized for his coverage of South Africa over the last twenty-eight years. He is also a successful documentary filmmaker, having just completed his most recent film, SHENANDOAH (available shortly on Netflix), and is an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan.

Turnley has published eight books of his photography, including his last, Mandela: Struggle and Triumph (Abrams).


Contact us at letters@time.com.

EDIT POST