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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Invictus, the Movie

The movie takes its title from the poem of William Ernest Henley. It was composed in a very difficult moment in the life of Henley, and it was his way to find inspiration against terrible odds. The movie takes the poem and builds on it a great cinematic metaphor: the verses were a source of inspiration for Nelson Mandela in his long years of prison; after his election as President of South Africa, the poem would become an inspiration for winning the Rugby World Cup, as a symbol of overcoming the past and forging the reconciliation.

I enjoyed the movie a lot, but I must say, especially for his second part: Clint Eastwood mastered perfectly the rendering of the grim fight in the games, as well as the terrible training sessions. It has guts, it's high voltage there, everybody and everything is strongly motivated. And Matt Damon was the perfect choice to communicate all these emotions and all these motivations.

Nevertheless, I think the first part of the movie was a bit too declarative. It could have been so in reality, and it's perfectly possible that at the beginning of his presidency Nelson Mandela had to be very didactic in order to explain to his people the need for reconciliation. However, it is difficult to make a credible cinematic personage with discourses. Especially when it is about a great historic personality, like Mandela.

Morgan Freeman had here a very difficult task. I must say he approached the personage with great humility and he found this way the right key and the right tones. He was able to render the hero sincere in his declarations of principles from the first part and gave to the role a great touch of humanity, by a mix of modesty, humor, resolution, and even of a bit of necessary cunning.

Now, coming back to the history that inspired the movie, we could ask ourselves whether the finale of the World Cup was really the moment of reconciliation in South Africa. I think it was only a moment, a necessary and happy moment in a process that will take still many years.




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