Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Invictus" (2009) Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood (Director)

Genre: Drama
'Invictus" is a film that dramatizes a small part of the reinvention of South Africa from a pariah nation to a multi-cultural society. The center of the film is Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) who tries to forge links between his followers and the minority white population that resisted racial integration for decades. That a man could spend 27 years at hard labor in prison as an official "non-person" and come out with a strong sense of compassion over bitterness and longing for revenge is a great story in itself. Freeman carries a lot of gravity to this role and excels as he usually does in films of all varieties.

The inclusion of the story of South Africa's Springbok Rugby Club--a symbol of white repression for black citizens--and its improbable success in the 1995 World Cup provides a powerful parable of the power of sport and national pride turning out to be a force for unity.
And perhaps a path for easing the burdens of remaking a nation (that now must be faced by black and white South Africans together) for decades to come.

While the film is not a film with a lot of surprises, it succeeds in showing us that in some cases the better side of human nature can come to the fore.

The title of the film comes from a poem by the Victorian writer William Ernest Henley.

Directed by
Clint Eastwood

Writing credits:

Anthony Peckham (screenplay)

John Carlin(based on his book "Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation")

Cast (in credits order)

Morgan Freeman ... Nelson Mandela

Matt Damon ... François Pienaar
Tony Kgoroge ...Jason Tshabalala
Patrick Mofokeng ... Linga Moonsamy
Matt Stern ... Hendrick Booyens

Julian Lewis Jones ... Etienne Feyder


  1. Good, I've been wanting to see this. I like Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman, so this should be good. I'm glad you liked it.

  2. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did Jacquie.

  3. I always think that Mandela sounds Japanese. Hehe!
    Great choice, Morgan Freeman! One of my favourite actors, but it's a while since he had quite such a good role.
    Rugby was a "white" sport when the World Cup was held in South Africa. Now the "black" sport "soccer" World Cup is starting there in a fortnight and is likely to be a massive success. Mandela is about 92 now (Hardy man after a quarter of a century in prison) and it will be nice to see what will effectively be the cultural culmination of the revolution that he played such a major part in.
    But that will not detract from the timing of the South African Rugby Championship and the boost that it gave to the "fledgling" nation of New South Africa.

    Clint Eastwood is making some ruddy good films these days.

  4. Thank you so much for this review, doug. I haven't seen the film and I really must. I love to watch Morgan Freeman's understated yet brilliant acting...
    What a long way South Africa has come since my friend left there because of racial prejudice.

    It is nice that her children can return and see a different SA to the one she left. Strong compassionate men such as Nelson Mandela, are an inspiration to us all.

    Hahaha, over to ebay!

  5. Yes, Oakie, I gather from the papers this morning that ex-President Mandela plans to be there for both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Cup. He is a hearty soul, that's for certain.

    Eastwood has really surprised me in the last twenty or so years; I thought he really was going to go on being a "blood star" of urban crime dramas, with the odd comedy thrown in. But ever since he did "White Hunter, Black Heart" in 1989 or so, his film choices are pretty top-notch. Two of his films, "Million Dollar Baby" and "The Changeling" are a couple of the best American films of the last ten years. I hope he too can stay around as long as Mandela, in good health.

  6. That is a true sign of great change, Cassandra --that liberal-minded ex-pats and their familes are returning to South Africa.

    It seems such a beautiful country from the films and news reports I've seen. I imagine one would miss places like Cape Town and its environs terribly. One cannot overlook the poverty of course, but many places in America had more urban blight in the 1960's and 70's than now, when government and private investment help restore the beauty of many areas like Washington DC.

    Yes, thank goodnes for people like Mandela. I don't expect anyone to be a saint in this world, but a leader who confounds his former enemies and breaks the cycle of violence is a man or woman to be celebrated!

  7. Hehe! I wish they'd leave poor Nelson alone now. He is an unofficial ambassador, I suppose, but he ought to be left to sit on his porch in peace rather than getting more ambassadorial appointments than than the Pope and Dhali Lama put together.
    Ironically Winnie Mandela used to run a "soccer team", that was really a hit-squad. I think she did time for it after Apartheid ended. She was a baddun.

    Yes, I agree entirely about Clint. "White Heart Black Hunter" seemed to come out of left-field and was excellent. I saw "The Changeling" recently. Another "humanistic" film. He seems to be the Anti-Arnie. Both moved into politics after making action films, but Clint did it without too much hoo-hah and his films really have gone from gun-fights to a more depthful humanity. Schwarzenneger has gone down the devil's road, by comparison. Yes, may Mr Eastwood have another decade or two of making fine films.

  8. Yes, Mr. Mandela has probably had his share of being a celebrity above celebrities. Plus every major media star who visits South Africa wants to meet the guy.
    Yes, I remember reading that Winnie Mandela's squad was into "necklacing" people (putting rubber tires on victims' necks and setting the tires on fire!) Personally, I'd get a restraining order if I came out of a jail to discover my wife was into that unusual form of mixing sports with torture.

    Good comparison of the careers of Arnold and Clint, Oakie. Schwarzenneger was really a "one-trick
    pony" as they used to say in the music business. Eastwood was willing to go out and direct and occasionally act in some offbeat films now and again and its paid off nicely by broadening his audience.

  9. Poor Mr Mandela. He really is the Pope of Africa.

    Hehe! I think that's what he did as regards Mrs Mandela. I understand the psychology behind necklacing, but it was such a Medieval way of doing things. Criminal elements in South Africa still use the method as a "punishment" or "incentive" I believe.

    However, mixing sports with torture is not a new thing. I still remember the West Germany - Austria soccer match in the 1978 World Cup. Here's a chunk of Wiki.

    "Group 2 saw one of the great World Cup upsets on the first day with the 2–1 victory of Algeria over reigning European Champions West Germany. This famous result for the Algerians put the Germans in grave danger of failing to qualify for the next round. This led to many people believing that the final match in the group between West Germany and Austria was fixed, as Algeria had already played their final group game the day before, West Germany and Austria knew that a West German win by 1 or 2 goals would qualify them both, while a larger German victory would qualify Algeria over Austria, and a draw or an Austrian win would eliminate the Germans. The fourth team in the group, Chile, were eliminated regardless of the outcome. After 10 minutes of all-out attack, West Germany succeeded in scoring through a goal by Horst Hrubesch. After the goal was scored, the two German-speaking teams went into an unspoken agreement and just kicked the ball around aimlessly for the rest of the match. Chants of "Fuera, fuera" ("Out, out") were screamed by the appalled Spanish crowd, while angry Algerian supporters waved banknotes at the players. This performance was widely deplored, even by the German and Austrian fans who had hoped for a hot rematch of the 1978 FIFA World Cup match in which Austria had beaten West Germany. One German fan was so upset by his team's display that he burned his German flag in disgust.[1] Algeria protested to FIFA, who ruled that the result be allowed to stand, but events led to FIFA introducing a revised qualification system at subsequent World Cups in which the final two games in each group were played simultaneously."

    Arnie is more of a one-trick donkey, hehe!

  10. I'm glad FIFA fixed that loophole--in any case, an abomidable example of bad faith and sportsmanship. Both West Germany and Austria should have been disqualiifed.

  11. I agree! The fact that their own fans had paid a lot of money to watch the match should have been some motivation to be more professional.

  12. Quite true Oakie--what happened between the German and Austrian clubs is just one notch above fixing a match outright.

  13. Which has happened in French and Italian football on quite a few recent occasions.

  14. That seems amazing these days, given the salaries I assume European football stars can command--or is there some other reason for the skullduggery?

  15. The italians have a long history of being cheats on and off the field. I think the main reason is that their fans are the most passionate about the game. 97% of Italy watched one past World Cup game. That is pretty much everyone who wasn't in a coma or out burgularising. They are soccer-crazy. The Italian media reflects this obsession and the pressure on clubs to do well is emmense. Combine that with the fact that Italy is a relatively wealthy, but also fairly corrupt country, politically and organised-crime wise, and you have too many people turning a blind-eye to what can be a pretty shoddy show at times. The Italian FA rarely hands out adequate punishments and UEFA (The European governing body) and FIFA (The World's governing body) seems to favour Italian (And Spanish) football more than the rest, so they don't tend to step up either.
    As for the players, some are simply too greedy, or too feckless to refuse the opportunities that they get to feather their own nests.

    The Irony is that, world-wide, and European-wide, soccer clubs, players and officials are normally entirely legitimate in their behaviour. But in Italy it seems to historically have been a case of "when in Rome ....."

  16. Bottom line, Italians don't seem to think of cheating or corruption as bad things.

  17. Sounds like an inspiring film Doug, although I'm no Rugby fan myself, I am an old Anti-Apatheid campaigner from the 80s and like most people remember where I was (Coventry) when Mandela was released from prison. Since then there have been a few big disappointments, not least of all Winnie M and some of the policy let-downs by the ANC dominated SA government. But Mandela continues to inspire nevertheless.
    The film is strategically placed to coincide with the Football (Soccer) World Cup in South Africa no doubt, I am supporting North Korea in that event, although I don't think I'll be celebrating at the final somehow :-(

    Thanks for heads up on yet another film I was unaware of Doug :-)

  18. Well, then , I guess its no great surprise. A friend of mine taught English for awhile in southern Italy and stayed in Rome. When I gave her what I thought was startling news (to me) of corruption in Italian business, she looked at me like I was a child. "That's just the way it is over there," to paraphrase her.

    I guess I shouldn't expect anything better from sport. Still, 97 percent viewership is staggering! Even a Monster-Truck Pull at The Oregon State Fair can't get ratings like that over here ;-)

  19. They'd all fit right in on Wall Street, Oakie.

  20. Mandela is indeed inspiring. Apart from some of the let-downs that came in the years after his release, the fall of Apartheid is proof that international grass-roots demonstrations and pro-divestment rallies do have an effect. Good on you for your and your colleagues' determination.
    I understand the US and England have an opening soccer (football) match this Saturday. I'm not sure what the betting line is, but suffice to say I feel conflicted by this match-up. All irony aside, may the best team win.

  21. It truly is staggering. Italians do seem to be fanatical about the things that they adore. All the Fs really. Football, food, family and fashion.
    Shame about the corruption though.

    The England -USA game will be an exciting match, I think. England must be odds on to win, but the US have the potential to suprise and I expect both teams to qualify for the next round. Team America are very inconsistent. They can be really good or really bad. They ought to be the former this time around.

    Yes, may the best team win.

  22. USA-v- England game.....Aardvark prediction is 1-1 draw.

  23. Are we starting a book on Doug's this what they call 'running numbers' Doug?

    Carry on with this sort of shenanigans and the next thing you know is you'll be elected to Westminster for the Tories on a landslide majority in a by-election at Worthing, Sussex..... Better nip this gambling in the bud I think Doug.... before you qualify for an OBE and an invite to Buck House for one the Queen's Summer garden parties.

    If you want to avoid Bucks Fizz and cucumber sandwiches ( a particularly dyspeptic combination) pray act now Doug before it's too late.

  24. You left out fascism Oakie. Perhaps that was just a passing fancy on their part.

  25. Thaks for the warning and laying out those onerous penalties AA.

    I cannot afford to be an unlicensed Internet "turf accountant" gentlemen, not with those Homeland Security roughnecks likely wanting to cut in for a piece of the action even I cam out ahead.

    That Bi-Party Government over there would love to lure Americans like me to England for an OBE--- and then stick me in some by-election. Next I'll be shooting grouse at Housebabk Hall to win over the absentee landlord vote. No thanks. I can become a common electoral pimp and sell out for money right here in the USA, thank you very much.

    Plus, a visit to the Palace! Yikes! Imagine me trying to make conversation with Prince Philip when I don't know a damn thing about polo!

    As for voting Tory, my Cockney Grandfather would rise from his grave and give me the hiding I would richly deserve.

    Plus, I might have ancestors in Scotland (I think) and they haven't voted Tory since Hardian's Wall was last whitewashed.

  26. An admirable bit of prognositcation, AA ;-) America's Favorite Former Colonial Masters tried hard at the end to score a second goal, but it was not to be. Well played all around for what I got a chance to see while at lunch.

  27. The England team were dire, overpaid hopeless numpties in my opinion Doug, they haven't got a hope in hell.
    Good result for the USA though......

    Oh well I'll have to wait for the Group 5 games to see my side play..... Up North Korea!

  28. Not afraid to back a "dark horse" I see AA.