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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Movies: Invictus 
12th-Oct-2013 11:31 pm
Force equation
I am on a slow kick to watch those movies (that interest me) that teach me something about the modern human condition, the clash of cultures, and people being better than they were. I watched The Blind Side a while ago, and was really taken by the quieter points of the movie, such as not calling Michael "Big Mike" and how no one ever asked him if he wanted to play football. Soon after I saw The Blind Side, I purchased Invictus, and it sat on the table patiently waiting for my mood to strike again.

As far as Invictus goes, I picked it because of the commercials about Matt Damon's character (I didn't realize he was playing the captain of the rugby team) coming to understand Nelson Mandela. The artistic shots of Damon's face on Robbin Island were intriguing. The use of the poem and the line "I am the captain of my soul" seemed to be out of place with rugby, so I got curious: why use that poem with this topic. Also, I had the misconception that Mandela asked for the team to be racially integrated and Damon's character had to do it. That should tell you how little I knew about South African rugby or the plot of this movie.

I'm not a fan of rugby. It's not something I find interesting to watch or in which I have invested even as much (little) time as football. So buying this movie on DVD - and watching it by myself - was a good idea. I ended up fast-forwarding through most of the sports scenes. Even the stirring music and the powerful displays of physicality just didn't do it for me. Yay yay for the good guys. Yay also for not totally sugar-coating the way South Africa was so divided when Mandela was elected. And really, I had no idea that Mandela was so incredibly tied up in rugby as this movie made him out to be. I guess I learned something, along the lines of the movie Miracle (hockey), about how much some people care about a sport.

What made this movie so notable for me was the detail and screen time lavished on Mandela's security team. That view into the regular people of the era was more interesting to me than either that of the president or of the sports team. The black guys that were Mandela's original security team at his election requested more help. What they got was a white team from the South Aftican Secret Police. Both groups had to get over their prejudice and cultural difference enough to work together for a common goal. The vocabulary differences, the physical distances, even the ways the different men interacted with the president were all understated and very well presented. My compliments to the team of actors and to Eastwood for making the subtleties louder than shouting. My favorite moment with these guys was at the game where a drunk Afrikaner starts hugging a *very* black-skinned security gent to celebrate that win. My runner-up favorite is where the two guys in the VP box (one black, one white) go to hug each other and stop, stare, and shake hands.
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