INVICTUS (Blu-ray Edition)|
Warner Bros. | 2009 | 133 min | Rated PG-13 | May 18, 2010
Written by David Hillyer
May 21, 2010
Invictus (latin for “unconquered”) appears from the trailers to be about the 1995 South African Rugby team that won the Rugby World Cup. I'm not a Rugby fan so I wasn't all that enthused about watching a movie about rugby. I'm betting there are very few people in the USA that have ever been to a game, much less know the rules. But it turns out the Rugby World Cup is really just a setting to tell a bigger story.
The main story of this film is about the rise of Nelson Mandela from political prisoner to the Presidency. South Africa was still a very segregated nation in 1995. What does Nelson Mandela do after becoming President of a divided country? He looked for hope of national unity and he found it in the most unlikely place: the South Africa Rugby Team (aka the Springboks), a team of primarily white men. It is one of those stories you never hear about when it happens but only years later when a movie studio picks up the story do we get to see the hollywood-ized version.
Mandela (played wonderfully by Morgan Freeman) asks the national rugby team captain François Pienaar (played by Matt Damon) to do the impossible and win the Rugby World Cup. This is only 3 years after apartheid and Mandela is freed from prison and voted president. The country needed a symbol – a rallying point of national significance. That came in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
But is Invictus about Rugby? No. It is about many things, but Rugby is merely the tool used to achieve greater things. How could a man imprisoned for almost 30 years come to a place where he can forgive his oppressors? How can he then lead and motivate his country to do the same? Whatever you may believe about Mandela, the events of this film serve to show that he is an extraordinary man and we need more men like him.
Most of the film was shot in South Africa, which is of course as authentic as anyone could get. Even more authenticity was found when they filmed in the actual jail cell Mandela had stayed in for nearly 30 years. Eastwood really knows how to tell a story. Pacing is nearly flawless in this 2-hour, 13-minute film. Yes, the ending is predictable, but it has the added value of being true.
Behind the Story: Mandela meets Morgan (SD and HD, 28:10) is a fascinating look into what makes the man. Morgan Freeman even meets with Nelson Mandela personally and has some laughs. Freeman and others provide some interesting feedback about Mandela. Behind the Story: Matt Damon plays Rugby (HD, 6:49) features interviews with Damon, we discovered that he isn't quite crazy enough to goon it up while playing, but it is interesting to see how Damon bulked up and tried to look bigger on screen. The Eastwood Factor (SD, 22:23) is a highlight reel from an upcoming documentary and book about Clint Eastwood. He is getting up in years (he'll be 81 on May 31) so it is timely and interesting to see a retrospective on his career as an actor, director, and musician. Hopefully the actual documentary will be in high definition as some of the clips in this reel look very dated. Invictus Music Trailer (HD, 2:36) is an alternate trailer with more focus on the African music soundtrack and the Blu-Ray edition also includes a standard edition DVD, and a code to download a digital copy from iTunes.
by William Ernest Henley
written in 1875, published 1888M
Out of the night that covers me,