Invictus (Clint Eastwood, 2009): USA

Reviewed by Kathleen Amboy.  Viewed at the Riviera.

Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud.  Under the bludgeonings of chance my head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the horror of the shade, and yet the menace of the years, finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate:  I am the captain of my soul.

The words of Henley’s  Invictus was the mantra Nelson Mandela repeated to himself within the walls of his prison cell.  He was released in 1990 and four short years later became South Africa’s first black president. 

How would Mandela (Morgan Freeman) bring about unity to a severly divided country?  Cleverly through South Africa’s national sport of rugby.  The Springboks team had one black player amongst all whites, but the black South Africans invariably rooted for the opposing teams.  Mandela openly supported the losing Springboks and championed their team captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) on to greatness, which led the team to victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted in South Africa.

Morgan Freeman is simply amazing as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon pulls off an acceptable accent and performance as Francois Pienaar.  However, the most meaningful part in the film is Mandela’s (Freeman’s) voice-over of Henley’s Invictus during Pienaar’s tour of Mandela’s cell.  Sound confusing?  It is.  All of a sudden in the middle of the film, Pienaar takes a tour of Mandela’s prison cell.  Where was my man Clint during editing?  Dunno.  Aside from this, there are several instances where you might need to turn to the person next to you and say “what’d he say?”

Overall a good film, a beautiful film, just a little frustrating.

About this entry