Wednesday, December 16, 2009


This post is a review of the movie I saw last night: Invictus. The name comes from a poem written in 1885 by English poet William Ernest Henley. The film is a look at life for Nelson Mandela after the fall of apartheid in South Africa, during his term as president when he campaigned to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup event as an opportunity to unite his countrymen.

Morgan Freeman is absolutely stunning in the role of Mandela. I could never have believed that this man, whom I have seen in such different roles, could step into the skin of Mandela so completely, but he did. (He has just been nominated for a Golden Globe for this role.) And Matt Damon, as usual, had a perfect South African accent and played the captain of the rugby team, Francois Pienaar, perfectly. I learned that Damon bulked up for the part (boy did he; bulging muscles galore) and had to have a stand-in for most of the really grueling scenes. My favorite review of the movie came from the New York Times and I'm giving it to you here.  When I read this review I just had to see the movie.

This is a true story about a man who is still living, who spent several decades in a tiny prison cell (which is actually shown in the movie) and came out of it willing to forgive his jailers and be the great South African president. Clint Eastwood directs it, and he shows how brutal both apartheid and rugby really are. I can still hear and see the rugby scenes in my imagination, a game which I simply don't understand, but I can sure see why it's the main sport of many countries.

And the movie is also about two important things: forgiveness and willingness to change in the face of adversity. The events that happened in this movie are all real, except I learned that Mandela actually didn't give the poem to Francois, but instead an extract from Theodore Roosevelt's speech "Man in the Arena" from 1910. I can see why Eastwood decided to use the poem instead, since it really summarizes Mandela's journey:
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 movie is also based on a book written by John Carlin, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation. Of course now I will get the book and read it. If you want to see an uplifting movie with quite a bit of grunting and gasping that has nothing to do with sex, go see it. I'd love to know what you think of this movie. I would give it an A+.


  1. Oh, it sounds like a must! I read the review (thanks for the link), and it sounds fascinating. I love a good uplifting movie, not to mention sports movies about the underdog. There's just something about a group of people coming together for a common goal against great odds that just gets me.

  2. It sounds excellent. Nelson Mandela's story is compelling. It is amazing what one man can accomplish. I never thought there would be an end to apartheid. It is nice to be wrong sometimes.

  3. I'm always interested in "underdog" movies. They are the ones I enjoy because it gives me hope that there are good people in this world. I must admit...sometimes I forget that.

    We will see it this week and I will let you know what I think of it. I just have to figure out how to work it in to my golf schedule.

  4. Oh, it sounds simply fabulous, D-Jan!!! What an excellent movie reviewer you are!!! I'm sold...must see it now! Hugs, Janine xx

  5. Incredibly talented actors and an awesome story based on real life. I'm always in for those two!

  6. Just trying to get caught up with all my blog reading that I missed while we were on vacation..this movie sounds fascinating. I will definitely put it on my "to watch" list! Thanks!

  7. Umm sounds interesting DJ! I will wait for it's premiere showing, I know it will take a little time before it' first screening here. Morgan Freeman is an outstanding actor!


  8. Going on the MUST SEE list! Thanks, DJan. I once had a dream that I was riding in a cab with Nelson Mandela and we conversed like old friends. He was lovely. I've had a lot of dreams like that. You can't believe the people I've met! lol

  9. Nice review. Glad you enjoyed the movie. :)
    I also looked at your other blog and found it very heartfelt and fascinating as well. I lost a son thru bi-polar disease.

  10. We go to the movies once or twice a year, but we will go and see this movie for sure. I am pleased you talked about it. Thanks for your nice comments on my blog.

  11. I haven't had a chance to see this movie yet but it is on the top of my list. I have read several reviews, yours being the best, and I am excited about it. Also I am a fan of Morgan Freeman, he is a very versatile actor.


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