Instead of keeping the suspense till the end of this blog I guess I should tell you right now you should go see the movie. See it or the terrorists win. Now that we got that out of the way I review it without really giving away the story, although most of us know how this story ends.

Perhaps I should mention that I went to the premier of the movie where I saw the likes of Winnie Mandela. Guess who else was there? The one and only Joost “van der Merwe”. He must be relieved that Tiger has his own sex scandal now and we’re off his back.

The movie begins by subtly showing the separation of black and white right at the beginning, which is to say that it is actually obvious. Two schools separated by a road, one black, poor and under-resourced, the other rich, white and privileged. You get the picture. The blacks are playing soccer in a dilapidated soccer field, it as poor as the boys playing on it. The white boys on the other side of the fence are disciplined, on a beautiful green lawn. You get the subtlety I guess.

If you are South African you can’t help notice that Morgan Freeman’s Nelson Mandela accent is not so stellar. He slips into an American accent far too many times. People laughed a bit when he was sworn in as president of the republic and struggles to say, “Rolihlahla”. The first few minutes of the movie this will distract you without doubt. But, yes, there is a but, but this time it is followed by a positive — I like to buck trends.

Freeman’s portrayal of the man Nelson Mandela is beyond amazing. His gestures, the unmistakable walk, the occasional clearing of the throat as he speaks, the mouth curling down are so Madiba you forget you’re watching Freeman. The fact that he does look like him helps a lot too. Soon, you forget that he gets the accent wrong and you get caught up in the magic that is Madiba. Suddenly, Morgan Freeman is Mandela.

Matt Damon is supreme as the lonely captain of the team. He does not talk too much. He is buff, he looks like he’s played rugby all his life. His Afrikaans accent is stellar. He never takes away from who the story is about, it’s about Madiba, director Eastwood handled that very well.

The movie is a modern-day Chariots of Fire. It is an inspiring sports movie. It is more than a mere sports movie, it’s about how Mandela used the unlikeliest tool to unite a nation that wasn’t really prepared to — the tool being rugby which was seen as a bastion of white supremacy and racism.

You get the sense that the humility, charm and easy humour are all part of an intensely deliberate act to build a nation he wants. No one understands what he is trying to do but he is clear in his mind about what he wants. The reconciliation, the reaching to the enemy is all a very scientific calculation. He wakes up on the day he was elected president and sees an African headline, his bodyguards ask him what it says, “He can win an election, but can he run a country?” he translates the headline for them. “Your first day on the job and they are already saying thing like this.” He walks on and he says to the bodyguard, “It’s a legitimate question”.

The script is brilliant. You do not for a second believe Madiba wouldn’t say any of the things he says in the movie, including him charming the ladies.

He makes you proud to be South African but ultimately Madiba makes us proud to be human.

The movie, Invictus is inspired by a poem Madiba turned to often in prison when times were tough. Here is the poem by William Ernest Henley:

INVICTUS

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.

READ NEXT

Khaya Dlanga

Khaya Dlanga

Khaya Dlanga* By day he perpetuates the evils of capitalism by making consumers feel insecure (he makes ads). For this he has been rewarded with numerous Loerie awards, Cannes Gold, several Eagle awards...

7 replies on “Invictus”