May 5, 2010 - Mike Donahey
See the movie “Invictus.”
My wife and I saw it earlier this year as it was making its rounds through Central Iowa theaters. It should be out on DVD. Buy it or rent it.
Director Clint Eastwood delivered another solid, workmanlike effort and an all-star cast featuring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon gets the job done.
The story line is compelling, with themes of forgiveness, fortitude and racism examined.
Invictus covers the early days of the Nelson Mandela presidency in post-apartheid South Africa. Mandela, a black man, had been freed from prison earlier and later goes on to win the country’s presidency.
Before Mandela’s election, South Africa had been governed exclusively by whites. The county’s blacks, demanding equal opportunity, thought of the white regimes as racist and oppressive.
A film highlight is a scene where the country’s sports authority, previously controlled by whites, but now by blacks, wants to abolish the mostly white South African rugby team. They have viewed it as a symbol of the country’s oppression.
Mandela learns of this and intervenes. A shrewd move politically. He explains to the sports authority that the team is important to white South Africans and to abolish it would make it difficult for the country to be unified.
Damon is the captain of the Rugby team which Mandela and others come to embrace. In time, blacks, thorough Mandela’s example, come to root for the team as well.
Fittingly, while all of this unfolds, the Rugby World Championship will be played in South Africa. Eastwood and Damon effectively portray the preliminaries and
the championship game without sappiness. There is no Disney-type ending in the championship game which features South Africa and New Zealand. Only the rough, bruising play of rugby players.
The movie’s title is taken from a poem by the same name that is quoted repeatedly in the movie by Mandela. Authored by William Earnest Henley, the poem is ideal reading for anyone feeling the world is against them.
I’ve liked director-actor Clint Eastwood since I first saw him portray cattle drive ramrod “Rowdy Yates” on “Rawhide” years ago.
I liked his westerns with director Sergio Leone, “For a Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More,” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”
His directorial debut “Play Misty for Me,” years ago earned Eastwood much respect in Hollywood as a director.
The “Changeling” released not long ago, was one of his best.
I’m looking forward to his next movie.
See you at the concession stand.