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.
By William Ernest Henley
That poem serves as the title for the film that tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) joined forces with the captain (Matt Damon) of South Africa's rugby team to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa's underdog rugby team as they make an unlikely run to the 1995 World Cup.
With talent like Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman coming together, I knew Invictus
was going to be good...actually I was expecting it would be great. I was just slightly disappointed.
Without a doubt Clint Eastwood has once again given us a reverent tribute film. This time it is of Nelson Mandella’s efforts to unite post-apartheid South Africa by enlisting the help of the national rugby team. Unfortunately, it’s more of a memorial and less of a film. I mean it looks great; it is stately and well-defined but it is also dramatically lifeless.
And that’s a real shame because the story is amazing. I mean everyone thought Mandella was throwing his political life away when he decided to use the rugby team to unite the country. The entire black population viewed them as a symbol of white rule, and even cheered against them. In one scene we see a boy living in poverty refuse a shirt because it is the team’s jersey. With a story this good I left the movie wondering what was missing. Why didn’t I feel their passion or a stirring in my heart? Somewhere along the way, the life and the story parted ways.
My only other complaint was the lack of character development for the rest of the team. I’m not saying we need to know everything about them, but when we are introduced to only two of the players; it severely diminishes the drama in “sports drama.”
That being said, Invictus
is a great story with a great cast and it is definitely worth renting. Once I understood what was happening on the field I actually became a fan of Rugby (my brother plays in a league here in PA). I know that helped going into the film. If you don’t understand or don’t care...well that’s a pretty big obstacle to overcome. My wife for example, cared more about watching Matt Damon running around than what was happening in the game.
Finally, next to the true story aspect, the next biggest reason I enjoyed this film was the teachable moments and words of wisdom throughout the movie. It has everything from the Invictus poem to the lessons on leadership and forgiveness taught by the lives of Mandella and François Pienaar.
It wasn’t the epic story I was expecting but still a great film. It gets a Theater Worthy from me.
SHOULD KIDS SEE IT?
Yeah, there was only one F-word that I remember and there are some amazing teachable moments/words of wisdom packed into this one.
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
- What are some of the messages or themes you observed in this movie?
- How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?
- How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?