Sunday, 14 February 2010


It's not that often a movie comes on that I have great interest in seeing.
Invictus, the story of Nelson Mandela and the South African 1995 World Cup Rugby team, was an exception; despite South Africa's problems, its transition to a functional democracy, without civil war or widespread brutal recriminations, has been a remarkable achievement. Some reviews have labelled Invictus schmaltzy and corny, steeped in sentimentality but none that I have seen has questioned its historical accuracy. Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon pay remarkable tribute to the humility of Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar - the SA Rugby captain - and their determination to build a united South Africa. The movie makes it clear that Mandela understands how important rugby is to white South Africans and in the interests of national unity supports it fully. It's a moot point, but worth a mention, had Mandela not embraced rugby so whole heartedly in a spirit of reconciliation, how different would South Africa be today? The same could be asked of Pienaar and his response to Mandela. The movie would make for an excellent leadership case study.

Clint Eastwood seems to think leadership is the central theme too. Apparently in making the film Eastwood, a Republican supporter, also sought to hold a yardstick to the current US presidency - which like Mandela has inherited a divided country. Eastwood is on the record criticising Obama's leadership and saying he hopes the President watches the movie and understands the message.
On another movie making point, I was reading something about Invictus a while back and apparently Nelson Mandela, when asked who he would like to play him in a movie answered without hesitation "Morgan Freeman". I think Mandela would be pleased with his portrayal.

I have pasted two videos below; one is of the world cup theme as taken from the movie (the movie blended original footage with the movie), just because it's too good not to include it; the other is a recent interview with Francois Pienaar.

The only other movie on my radar at the moment is Avatar, mostyl see what the Chinese govt. think Chinese people shouldn't see....

Though it could wait for DVD, Invictus is definitely worth seeing at the movies.


Rurousha said...

I spotted this post in your LinkWithin widget. It brought back so many memories. I remember those difficult years, and the triumph of this match, so well.

I still start bawling when I watch the final scenes, sissy that I am! ^^

This movie is the only exposure to/knowledge of SA many of my students have. I'm very grateful that Eastwood did such a brilliant job.

Cecilia said...

I wondered what you thought of it. I had a big argument with a friend who lived in Africa for a while. He despised it as sentimentalized.. As far as I could see, there are few episodes in modern history that have been so profoundly moving.

I'm glad you think it was well done, it gives me more conviction in my sentiments.