Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Film Review of "Invictus": Mandela's Message of Hope

The film “Invictus” dramatizes the real-world events of 1995, when newly installed South African President Nelson Mandela urged his country to come together behind its rugby team, the Springboks, when South Africa hosted the once-every-four-years Rugby World Cup.

The team had been, to many South Africans, a hated symbol of apartheid, cheered by the white Afrikaners but rooted against by the oppressed natives.

Mandela had learned in his years in prison that sports had the power to bring people together across political and color boundaries. When the newly empowered natives wanted to change the hated team's name and colors, Mandela argued against that, noting that in this case, the emotional concerns of the vanquished should outweigh those of the victor.

The film starts a bit slowly and awkwardly. It looks like a lower budget production than it is (the film was shot entirely on location in South Africa).

As the real life leader of the Springboks, Francois Pienaar, told the BBC in 1995, “no Hollywood scriptwriter could have written a better script.” And none did. The script is the weakest part of the film.

The dialog seems artificial and stilted in the early scenes. And yet, none of that matters. The real-life story itself is the star here, and kept me mesmerized throughout, and the experience was well worth the money and time, something I find increasingly hard to say about the majority of films these days.

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