Fellow Movie Lovers
Yes, I have returned from a warm and luscious hiatus. While relishing the only place in the continental United States that was bathed in sunshine I still managed to sit in a darkened and cool theatre to view:
After a week of digesting this film, another jewel by Clint Eastwood (a man who never tires of reinventing himself) I have reached the prescient conclusion that the poem Invictus is the true star of this movie.
It was written in 1875 by British poet William Ernest Henley (1849-1902). It is worthy of
Invictus (unconquered in Latin)
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods that be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms 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.
As a child Henley was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bone and eventually lost a foot to the disease. His spirit remained undaunted throughout his life. It was this poem that served as a beacon of fortitude for Nelson Mandela during his twenty- seven years of incarceration.
Morgan Freeman is Nelson Mandela; a role he was destined to play. So rarely does an actor have the attributes of the character he portrays, either real or fictional that the viewer could not fathom anyone else in the role. (Only Clark Gable could capture the inimitable charms and skullduggery of Rhett Butler; or Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice).
The plot revolves around the challenges Mandela had to conquer as the first black president of South Africa; he legitimately feared polarization and brilliantly decided that the game of rugby was the chemical needed to narrow the monumental divide between the Afrikaners and the blacks they so loathed and feared. He goes against the advice of his aids and keeps the Springbok mascot (gazelle), a symbol of oppression and white domination. He enlists as his disciple the captain of the Springbok team, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) and together conceive the illusive miracle……winning the World Cup in one years’ time.
Pienaar’s conversion fueled by Invictus is masterfully crafted. Matt Damon, accent and all, gives Pienaar the gentle grace and strength of a leader without a splash of sentimentality.
Watching the film I realized that something was lacking. Looking for a depth at least a thousand leagues under the sea; but instead remained at the lake level. Maybe Morgan Freeman’s imitation of Mandela was too perfect. Or possibly an over abundance of the rugby game and its rutting sound effects.
Nelson Mandela is an icon of our modern times, almost godlike in his accomplishments.
Always in the top ten of whom you would “like to have as a dinner partner”. But as I watched the film, lines from a poem by Richard Lovelace waltzed through my mind:
Stone walls do not a prison make
Nor iron bars a cage
Minds innocent and quiet
Take that for a hermitage.
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free
Angels alone, that soar above
Enjoy such liberty.
Nelson Mandela is a dazzling example that there are no shackles that can hinder the flight of a soul so pure it reigns with the celestial.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!