Invictus

2009-12-15 11:40
 
Invictus

What it's about:

The story of South Africa’s inspirational win in the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and how Nelson Mandela helped the Springboks become a symbol of reconciliation for the country.

What we thought:

There will be a time, long from now, when no one remembers what the old "New South Africa" was like, and the events that made it such a unique, exciting time in our country’s history will become fuzzy memories. Invictus may not be the sports movie or drama that we hoped it would be, but in transporting us Rainbow denizens back to our first moments of democracy, it does a fantastic job.

The film tells the story of the Springboks' winning run in the Rugby World Cup of 1995 and Nelson Mandela’s reclamation of the game for the cause of national unity. Morgan Freeman is cast as Madiba, a role he has coveted since Mandela himself declared that the Shawshank Redemption star should play him in a movie. Freeman captures the gravitas and presence of Mandela with ease, unsurprising for a man who has played both a president (Deep Impact) and God (Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty). South Africans, however, may be a little unconvinced by his accent, which flits between a Tennessee drawl and Madiba’s rolled R’s with confusing regularity.

Matt Damon, sporting a near-flawless 'Kaner accent, plays the Bok captain Francois Pienaar. The buff bod, the psychological platitudes of a rugby captain are all there, and Damon’s reward is a convincing character portrait of the man who claimed the Web Ellis Cup for South Africa. Awards nods may well follow.

Primarily, Invictus works as a historical film. The attention to detail, to the realities of Mzansi as it lived and breathed almost fifteen years ago, is truly commendable. The World Cup action follows the script to a tee: the rain-drenched semi-final in Durban, the terrifying emergence of the All Blacks' Jonah Lomu in the competition. One or two Hollywood embellishments aside, what we get is authentic.

With all this exposition going on, however, someone forgot to tend to the plot. The World Cup and its contingent narratives preclude a satisfying biopic of Mandela, and as a rugby movie, Invictus inevitably falls short in American hands. For all the knowing smiles between his characters and hammy vignettes of "reconciliation" Eastwood has peppered into the film, it lacks tension and the remainder is a documentary with actors.

This isn’t to say that Invictus isn’t moving or inspirational. In fact, South Africans will be hard-pressed not to feel moved by a familiar, but somewhat forgotten story. Winning the Rugby World Cup was an incredible event in the country’s history, a shot of optimism and togetherness to a divided population that needed it then more than we thought we did. Eastwood’s film, if nothing else, is a great reminder of where this nation has been, and more importantly, how hungry it proved to be for its first post-Apartheid moment.


Like the '95 Boks themselves, Invictus is made of powerful stuff. Unfortunately, Clint Eastwood’s latest film doesn’t look set to conquer the world.

noel 2009/12/11 7:08 AM
Nice One
Dave 2009/12/11 9:13 AM
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Can't wait to see it.
WaynesWorld83 2009/12/11 9:46 AM
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A Clint Eastwood film starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela and set in newly post apartheid South Africa has some high expectations riding on it. Unfortunately it falls just short of being the great South African biopic it could have been. The plot, centered around the 1995 Rugby World Cup, never quite finds its feet. Uneasily jumping from a feel good sports film, to a political drama, to at one point even a totally over the top terrorist thriller. Matt Damon is the one thing that went above and beyond my expectations transforming himself, quite brilliantly, into an Afrikaaner boytjie to play Francois Pienaar. Despite all this I think South Africans will enjoy looking back at a time when we were all able, even just for a moment, to put aside our fears and worries and celebrate our beautiful country... And it couldn;t have come at a better time.
Say what... 2009/12/11 9:47 AM
Yaaaaawn....does MK get a mention, or the fact that Nelson never renounced violence as a tool to overthrow a government.
Falcon 2009/12/11 10:09 AM
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What people I think must realise is that the book that this movie was based on, Playing The Enemy by John Carlin, focuses more on Madiba's political shrewdness and cunning tactics in uniting the nation, and less on the World Cup itself. I heard the author give an interview on 5fm a few days ago, and he went into detail about how, for example, Madiba invited the leader of a right-wing Afrikaner terrorist group to tea at his Houghton home and how afterwards, the guy gave up his cause and vowed to help him. The World Cup was merely a tool, a highly successful and important tool, that Madiba used to unite our nation. The problem here with this movie is that, for most of us, as soon as we heard about it, we were like 'Oh my word, a movie about the '95 World Cup, hope it's authentic, hope the rugby looks real' etc etc
Adriaan 2009/12/11 10:20 AM
@ Say what: Some people never change, and I hope you realise I'm reffering to YOU and everyone like you.
Travis 2009/12/11 10:37 AM
I don't get it...you tell us the film is "fantastic", "inspirational", "moving", "authentic", and worthy of awards, and yet the headline suggests you were disappointed by the movie? No wonder I'm confused.
Hans 2009/12/11 10:47 AM
I think the point is that the movie lets down the very powerful story it is based on. Haven't seen it yet, but will check it out this weekend.
Say what.. 2009/12/11 11:16 AM
Adriaan I take it you didnt lose any limbs or family members while munching on a burger in a Wimpy or in Magoos...
Gavziti 2009/12/11 11:39 AM
Hollywood just can't seem to get our accents right - but we can pull theirs off theirs perfectly.
Boertjie 2009/12/11 11:46 AM
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I can't wait for the movie. Already plik'd a traan when I saw the trailer - very proud of this movie!!! Can't wait!!!!
Adriaan 2009/12/11 12:46 PM
@Say What: I take it you weren't shackled in ethnic servitude for generations, either. Yes, people treat Madiba as if he is flawless, which he is not, but I'll take an ex-saboteur over a bitter, blindfolded right winger any day of the week.
Reggie 2009/12/11 12:47 PM
I thought the rugby wasn't bad. They even got Joost's diving passes right.
SJ 2009/12/11 1:35 PM
Completely with Adriaan on this one
Etienne 2009/12/11 2:45 PM
Say What & Adriaan, take it to the sandpit. Eastwood is a master at subtlety and understatement in his movies. Million Dollar Baby was just brilliant. Can't wait to see this film.
pretty 2009/12/11 3:32 PM
Say what you are So so yester-year....move on bro - unbound yourself and be part of the new order....
Say what... 2009/12/11 3:42 PM
Adriaan, very big hearted and magnanimous of you to give bombers and terrs a free pass, until its whats left of your child being removed from the wall with a spatula. You any relation to Robert Mcbride perhaps...
fred 2009/12/11 3:43 PM
It'll be quite cringeworthy. South Africans are way too critical (on Hollywood's interpretation of our accents etc). I'm proud that the movie was deemed worthy of making, and I don't think one should underestimate how much winning the world cup THEN really meant for us as a nation, even some of those who rightfully saw the game as that of an oppressor were proud. As much as I know it won't happen, can you imagine if Banana Banana won the footie? I could care less about football, but I'd be effing stoked. We could do with another morale booster. I haven't seen the movie yet, so no rating from my side.
fred 2009/12/11 3:55 PM
@ Say what. Everything has three sides mate. Your side, their side and the truth. As much as I hate the state that this country is in, only a complete spineless idiot would deny having any part to play in the current state of affairs. What would you have done if you were denied all rights? And don't tell my that's where we're at right now, far from it mate. We are now, in part, reaping what our forefathers sowed, that is the legacy your father and grandfather left for you. If you want to whinge, gaan praat met you pa, poephol.
Adriaan 2009/12/11 4:01 PM
I would never expect a father or a mother to forget a tragedy befalling their children. I DO expect everyone else to get on with their lives and not spew bile about a man who could have single-handedly steered us into civil war and genocide, but did exactly the opposite, trying to build a better future for all of us here. Including you, you ungrateful half-wit.
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