The movie's main theme is that people everywhere, no matter what color, deserve to be equal, ("one man, one vote"), with no compromises. Also that sacrificing oneself for the greater good is a generous and brave act. An epilogue asserts that people are not born hating each other; they must be taught. They can also be taught to love.
There are several newsreel-like scenes of riots in the streets, with the military shooting at civilians, and rioters throwing Molotov cocktails. Children are shown wounded and bleeding. Men are set on fire. Winnie Mandela is forcibly taken from her home and mistreated in prison, slapped and pushed around. The cops beat a black man to death, and some blood is shown. Nelson Mandela is shown boxing with an opponent. He fights with his first wife, telling her to "shut your stupid mouth." There are explosions as freedom fighters try to fight the establishment. There are several arguments and tense scenes of prison life.
Mandela kisses and sleeps with three women. No nudity of any kind is ever shown. With his first wife, he kisses and touches her leg; she insists that they must "wait until they are married." While married to her, he meets a pretty woman on the street and they have sex in a dark alley. After being divorced, he meets Winnie, and is shown kissing and having sex with her.
"F--king" is used once, but it's shouted during a noisy scene, and in a heavy accent, so it's hard to make out. "S--t" is heard once, much more clearly. "Piss" and "bitch" are also used.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Minor characters are shown smoking cigarettes in the background. In one scene Mandela and a friend go to a bar and the friend gets drunk and then is abused by police.