Saturday, December 26, 2009

Of Politics, Sports & Poetry

Wednesday night, I saw "Invictus" at the Angelika. The latest directorial offering from Clint Eastwood, this fine film tells the story of a meeting of politics and sports in post-Apartheid South Africa.

"Invictus" is set in 1995, the year South Africa hosted the Rugby World Cup. In the film, President Nelson Mandela hopes a tournament win by the South African team will help unify the racially-divided nation.

The great Morgan Freeman turns in a spot-on portrayal of Mandela, a stoic and strong George Washington-type who is all too rare on the world scene. (If only Afghanistan and Iraq each had a Nelson Mandela!)

Matt Damon has a key supporting role in "Invictus." He plays Francois Pienaar, the captain of the Springboks, South Africa's rugby team (then made up of almost entirely of white players).

Damon's performance is solid but the flat role easily could have been filled by an actor with less star power. Note to Academy voters: Avoid the temptation to nominate Damon for Best Supporting Actor for his work here. He's more deserving of a Best Actor nod for his quirky part in "The Informant!".

Another ingredient in the success of "Invictus" is its soundtrack. Some nice tunes, including one with some underlying Dvořák (I think).

"Invictus" currently has a 76 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes. This YouTube guy didn't like it. These guys did.

"Invictus" takes its name from the poem by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903). Take a look:

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.

1 comment:

St Edwards Blog said...

As you know, I was kind of "eh" on it. I love the story behind the film - I know it well. I found the film was a bit flat however.