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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.
These words, this verse of the poem by William Ernest Hensley in 1875, was the mantra of Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment in South Africa. He refused to give in to hate. He refused to give in to revenge. But how do you pull along an entire country with you? Especially a country as racially divisive as South Africa where Apartheid was a part of the landscape and politics for nearly 50 years?
Risking everything, Mandela achieved greatness by focusing not on politics, but on a sport: Rugby. Wanting to win the World Cup and thus unite a country, Mandela (played superbly by Morgan Freman, WANTED) sets out not to divide and conquer, but to unite and calm the racial tensions raging through his beloved South Africa.
With him, Mandela must convince Rugby captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon, THE DEPARTED) that their poorly performing team can do the impossible: win the World Cup.
As most of us now know, that is precisely what happens, and South Africa, for a while, forgets her bloody black-and-white past and turns everyone flush with excitement for simply being South African.
Clint Eastwood has proved in his waning years that he should remain (mostly) behind the camera and not in front of it. With the exception of GRAN TORINO, I've not been much of a fan of his as of late. However, when it comes to his directing chops, I've been fairly well pleased. Probably my favorite acted/directed Clint film would be the lesser known HEARTBREAK RIDGE. But that might just be me.
Many have already said that this was "the role Morgan Freeman was meant to play," and I won't contradict that. He was completely believable as Mandela, getting the look, verbal cadence and movements of The Great Man down perfectly.
Matt Damon on the other hand ...didn't really strike me as the bullish and larger-than-life Francois. Although I think he did "okay." I believe that a search for a more stylized actor could've easily resulted in a match more adequate to the part.
Regardless, the filming is enthralling because of Freeman's performance and the fact-based situations that this movie is based upon. For those looking for a sports film in-line with HOOSIERS, ROCKY or RUDY, you might want to look elsewhere. For those with an interest in human history and how politics can sometimes take a dive toward the goal line, this one will run straight at you.
Nelson Mandela is one of the very few people I can think of (and
certainly the only one living today) to whom I would be willing to
apply the adjective "great." His personal story of rising from
imprisonment under apartheid to becoming the first black President of
South Africa is a powerful testimony to perseverance and forgiveness,
as instead of using his newly acquired power to take revenge on those
who had oppressed he and his people, he chose to use his power to
promote reconciliation. The world would be so much better off today if
there were more Mandelas! "Invictus" offers just a small part of that
story. Shortly after the advent of majority rule, South Africa hosted
the World Cup of rugby. South Africa's own rugby team was (with one
exception) all white, and had been hated by the black majority during
the apartheid era. Mandela chose to use the team as a way to promote
unity in the country. The disunity was shown in many ways - Mandela's
own presidential bodyguards (some black and some white) were highly
suspicious of each other, and in a match against England before the
tournament the black spectators cheered for England. By publicly
supporting the team, Mandela brought other blacks onside as well, and
brought blacks and whites together as they all rallied around the team.
It was really very moving to watch the barriers come crashing down in
so many ways.
Morgan Freeman was very good as Mandela - as good as anyone could have played the difficult part of a man who is truly a living legend. Matt Damon was excellent as the captain of the Springboks (the name of the South African team.) His family were suspicious of Mandela, and yet once he actually met Mandela, he quickly bought into the desire to unify the country around the symbol of the team. Damon seemed to capture the essence of the character well.
I'm not a rugby fan, so the actual scenes of the matches meant little to me (although they were very well shot, and did offer an sort of "you are there" type of experience.) There was some beautiful scenery shot in the course of the movie and you do feel moved as - so to speak - the walls come tumbling down.
When I saw Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, I must admit I was already
sold. Matt Damon is just a bonus.
Everyone eyes will be on South Africa in 2010. What better way to celebrate one of the most beloved story of peace and freedom than to re-enact the 1995 World of Rugby?
Let me ask You a question avid reader... Would an experienced movie watcher really pass up a movie directed by Clint Eastwood featuring Morgan Freeman?
All in all: This IS a feel-good drama but who doesn't need one sometimes?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The title of the movie is "Invictus" and it only become clear somewhere
in the middle that it is a reference to a 4-stanza poem from the 19th
century, and its last stanza is:
It matters not how strait the gait, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
That was written by a young man who had to have his foot amputated, and Nelson Mandella favored it and used it for inspiration and hope while he was imprisoned.
The movie covers roughly 1991 when Mandela was released from prison through the 1995 Wold Cup Rugby matches hosted by South Africa.
When Mandela won the election the country was fragmented, with a strong black vs white mentality. Even though Mandela was one of those persecuted, now as president he knew his biggest challenge was to unite the country.
This movie uses Rugby as the vehicle for this unification effort. With only one black on the national; rugby team, the sport was considered mostly a white man sport. But Mandela threw his support, even learning the names of each player, and addressing them personally when he visited them. He especially befriended the captain, and shared with him the "Invictus" poem as a way to deal with life.
The South African Rugby team was mediocre at best, but they wanted to make a good showing as host for the World Cup. So much of the movie deals with Mandela's developing government along side the Rugby Team's development as a challenge on the world stage of rugby.
This is a Clint Eastwood film. Morgan Freeman is perfect as Nelson Mandela. And Matt Damon is perfect as François Pienaar, the captain of the rugby team. Damon even wears a nose prosthetic that results in his looking very much like the real player.
I give this movie my highest rating, it is a lesson in how good leadership can turn around a country and a sports program.
Clint Eastwood brings us 'Invictus', a inspiring true story. Based on
events in South Africa before and durning the 1995 Rugby World Cop,
hosted in the country following the dismantling of apartheid. Nelson
Mandela eyes are haunting, his sacrifice is haunting, his power and his
deeds to it are haunting. Eastwood beautifully brings out a successful
dream of this Legendary Man! He sets inspirations in you, he makes a
terrific film that is hosted with emotions.
Some films are memorable and 'Invictus' is one of those GEMS. It's so fascinating to see someone reach it's goal with success, so much of belief and intelligence. Your gripped, moved and inspired in those 132 minutes. Eastwood elaborates beautifully, this easily ranks amongst his best efforts.
Morgan Freeman becomes Mandela, he takes us to the journey as being him. The Legendary Actor delivers a knock-out performance after a long, long time. Matt Damon is superb, playing a real life character with a perfect South African accent. In fact, These 2 actors make 'Invictus' a much more over-whelming experience.
'Invictus' is a must watch... such gems are to be witnessed! Two Thumbs Up!
The film was a moving story without falling into the common trap of
being over-emotional. However, the most remarkable aspect was the
seamless green screen work. Usually, I can spot a "screened" shot in
milliseconds...not here. Not until the second viewing. And even then,
it wasn't overtly noticeable, more a sense of contrasting shadowing.
Damon's work was subtle and powerful. But, after all these years, that's to be expected.
Freeman was perfection itself. No surprise there. My question is, has he ever given a less than stellar performance??
And Clint Eastwood, where to start? I was pleasantly surprised when I watched his directorial debut and have yet to be disappointed. He makes emotionally investing films and pulls powerful performances from all his actors. I can't wait to see what he does next.
Even though the plot is known/predictable the theme "TO UNITE THE PEOPLE" was effective from the start to the end.........Clint Eastwood with his extraordinary caliber as director,Morgan Freeman with his omnipotent acting and Matt damon with his energy provided for a movie that inspired me...........As I say biographies,real life events do inspire u........The scene of the plane reaching out to wish goodluck was unexpected and great......I had no idea that it had happened in 1995.......I was 10 years old when this had happened........Due to films based on real life events,biographies and autobiographies I get to know what all were& are happening.........I highly felt for Mr Mandela for he forgave those who had done wrong to him and imprisoned him for 27 years........
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Morgan Freeman play Nelson Mandella in Clint Eastwood's Invictus. Any
film that Clint Eastwood touches is gold. So was I surprised by how
good this film was? No. But what did surprise me was that it doesn't
make my top ten of the 2009.
I saw too many great movies in 2009. This one just didn't make my list. It wasn't far off though. It has a lot to enjoy about it. It's inspiring story, and for me, to name just one thing, it would be Morgan Freeman's performance. It was a given. Though in this film we don't get to hear him talk the way he usually does(cause his narrations are enchanting), him and Matt Damon do a terrific job.
Freeman plays Nelson Mandella, the President of South Africa. After he gets out of prison, he is elected President again. But South Africans aren't happy about it. Eventually, he ends up supporting a Rugby team, led by Matt Damon.
Eastwood has done some terrific films. Incitus isn't quite up there. Really, compared to Mystic River? But I loved this movie. It's very interesting, but the main thing that brings it together is Freeman's performance. Both Freeman and Eastwood are a terrific team. In short, Eastwood + Freeman = Gold or Eastwood = Gold.
If Rugby Union executives wish to make their sport as popular in America as it is in other countries, they should consider adding alleged rapists to their teams. And while this drama doesn't attempt to expound rugby's limited appeal, it is an allegory for the unification of South Africa.
Elected president shortly after his release from prison, Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) faces a splintered nation still reeling from apartheid. To alleviate tensions between whites and non-whites, he enlists the local rugby team in particular its captain (Matt Damon) to help unify citizens through athletics.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, Invictus is a superbly acted film that bespeaks of South Africa's segregated past, but never overtly. Instead, it focuses on the positive aspects of the country's 1995 Rugby World Cup run.
Nevertheless, while it works for this overlooked sport, the combined forces of Damon, Freeman and Eastwood could never make Cricket seem cool. (Green Light)
Invictus Morgan Freeman Matt Damon Nursing a hangover in a flat
somewhere in Upton Park, East London that's where I was. Not when I
watched Invictus, when Mandela was released I mean. Isn't it supposed
to be one of those 'where were you when' moments? Well I'd crashed the
night in Upton Park after a party and everyone sat around watching it
Invictus is about those early years of the new South Africa after Mandela became president. A new nation, a new democracy, a new anthem and a new hope. The film chooses to focus on one aspect of those moments, South Africa's rugby team the Springboks. For those who don't know rugby, due to the aparthied system the Springboks were alienated for decades unable to play in international tournaments. By the time Mandela was president of the new RSA, they were awarded the hosting of the 1995 Rugby World Cup as a reward. Rugby at that time was considered a whiteman's sport in South Africa, not taken to by the black population who preferred soccer, and rugby was a symbol of the apartied oppression. Director Clint Eastwood focuses on how against all odds Mandela helped the Springboks not only manage greatness on the rugby field but using the world cup and the rejuvenating national pride to became a truly national team and a unifying force.
The story is well told in a good chronological and factual order, nothing is hazy or left unexplained. It would have been easy if not tempting to fill the movie with rugby but no doubt at the risk of alienating some of the audience and Clint Eastwood, who as a director has always found great human interest stories has created a good balance between action, character development and drama, although I felt the onfield rugby action was a little soft. It's always hard to capture sport in film, and I would go as far as to say only the 1960's 'Grand Prix' and 'Any Given Sunday' have successfully managed to do it. One wonders whether Eastwood would have been better off using actual game footage but for those non rugby enthusiasts it was probably fine as it is.
Freeman is more than excellent as Mandela. He is able to capture the warmness Mandela projected, his mannerisms and body posture to make himself believable and likable. He also brings a subtle enough attempt at Mandela's vocal range that whilst it slips from time to time and you know it's not Mandela and you are aware Freeman is trying to be Mandela it doesn't spoil the character. Matt Damon puts in a strong performance as François Pienaar but I felt that not enough was made of Pienaar character and this it must be said is not Damon's fault but Eastwoods. I remember those days well, and as much as I detested seeing South Africa win rugby, it must be said that Pienaar was indeed a fantastic spokesman, ambassador even not only the sport but for his country.
Eastwood Concentrates on Mandela pushing the Springboks and pushing the country to get behind them and yes it was a tremendous act of reconciliation given their political and racial attachments, but Pienaar was instrumental in making Mandela's plan work and without him both on and off the field the Bokke would not exist today. Sadly Matt Damon was limited to playing Pienaar as a sportsman , the occasional motivational speech and a limited dialogue I just felt not enough was made of Pienaar's real ability to lead by example both on and off the field. I never liked the Springboks as a team, especially after the most recent World Cup ( or Australian video referees) but it must be said Pienaar was a superb ambassador for the sport and his country and this does not come across in the film. Other than that it's an engaging film, there's some nice character development threads amongst Mandela's staff, the security forces and the Springbok players, the script is strong and there's a definite positive energy about the film, it leaves you with that sense of hope South Africa had back then. Looking at South African then and the South Africa now is as much as testimony to Mandela's greatness and it's such a shame it's all gone downhill since Mandela handed over the reigns. You don't need to be a rugby fan to enjoy this film, excellent.
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