What with me being a the mother of a ten-year old rugby superstar, an avid movie fan with a healthy female appreciation for Matt Damon and an armchair anti-apartheid campaigner, you’d think, in terms of me, that a movie about Nelson Mandela and the South African rugby team with Matt Damon playing the hunky team captain would be the perfect combination for our traditional Friday pizza and dvd night. You’d think wouldn’t you.
Well you’d be right.
Ah! You thought I was going to say you’d be wrong dincha!
Invictus is a poem written by William Ernest Henley and it means unconquered. It’s also a film directed by the brilliant Clint Eastwood and its based on the true events of the 1995 rugby world cup final that Nelson Mandela used in an genuine effort to unify black and white South Africans.
The film is historically accurate as far as I can tell and I loved it . . . LOVED IT. Morgan Freeman plays Mandela quite brilliantly and Matt Damon is just gorgeous. The only criticism I would have is that I had to really concentrate on the South African accent, often having to rewind in order to keep up, much to the annoyance of my boys. But it’s not really a criticism because I think it was deliberately done to avoid losing any authenticity, much to the beauty of the film. Clint Eastwood has this special way of keeping a big epic story unobtrusive, unpretentious and unfrilly but this only adds to the final feelings of being entirely uplifted and inspired. He did it in the superb Gran Torina too.
The rugby scenes in the film were superb to watch and it’s worth mentioning from a female perspective that those rugby players were rather yummy when they were scrummaging and flying into each other, but lordy! The aggression. How it made me shudder and half-wish that me laddie had chosen football to be mad about.
The issues got us talking and as always when Nelson Mandela is mentioned in our house, my frustratingly stubborn husband, who loves to play the oh-so-tiresome devil’s advocate (he calls it critical thinking. I call it being bloody awkward) started making the predictable sniggery comments . . . not everyone sees him as a hero and the even less imaginative freedom fighter or terrorist. Well blah, blah.
You know me folks, I always bite and the predictable heated discussion ensued. I won’t divulge the details sufficeth to say that although there were no flying objects, one or two heavy doors and the slamming thereof were involved, muchly on account of my weak inability to not be wound up by said spouse and his own spooky ability to make me throw the hissiest of tantrums that my kids would admire and envy.
Anyhoo, back to Mandela. I can speak about him here without fear of having to throw heavy objects at sarky husbands. Mandela dreamed of a rainbow nation and although there is still much to be done to heal and unify the nation, because of Mandela, there are no longer any “whites only” signs, black people can apply for jobs that were only available to whites under the evil apartheid system and blacks and whites can socialise in public without fear of punishment.
Sadly, racial tensions are still alive in South Africa but no-one can knock Nelson Mandela for what he did for the country and the progress he has made so far. As far as I’m concerned, he is up there with the best of our true world heroes and I truly hope that the country never stops striving for that Rainbow Nation that it so dearly needs and deserves.
And stuff the football, it’s great that rugby has at last been given some publicity by the movie industry.
Mandela is said to have memorised the poem Invictus during his imprisonment. You can read it here but here’s a verse taken from it:
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