Ryan Fortune has compiled a series of reviews on Invictus which has just opened in cinemas across South Africa.
Invictus quietly posits the radical idea that empathy, reconciliation and forgiveness can accomplish more in life than any amount of macho posturing or bullying, violent behavior.
With his beloved country’s future at stake, Mandela stressed to Pienaar the need to achieve greatness and to exceed all expectations…
This movie is about dreaming big and achieving a triumphant goal.
Invictus is an unabashedly inspiring (even amusing) movie. Eastwood makes moving pictures that seldom collapse under the burden of sentiment. He has a muscular understanding of how kernels of wisdom needn’t become caramel corn.
In “Invictus,’ Eastwood exhibits no directorial flourishes, no fancy camerawork nor snappy editing. His approach is virtually anonymous (perhaps selfless would be a better word); he correctly concluded that the film’s potent ideas needed little help from him.
Invictus is Clint Eastwood’s latest and most unexpected foray in his one-man campaign to make movies the way they used to be made. Instead of a thriller, war movie or western, the director has turned out a stirring drama about South African leader Nelson Mandela, blending entertainment, social message and history lesson in a way that recalls such decades-old films as The Story of Louis Pasteur, The Life of Emile Zola and Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Eastwood, who will be 80 next year, understands the flow of narrative in a way younger directors might envy. Working here with co-stars Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, he doesn’t allow anything, especially not splashy technique, to get in the way of simply telling a story. Over the last several years, he’s become as much of a brand name as Pixar when it comes to audience satisfaction that you can count on.
You get the picture just fine: massive men in short shorts thumping into each other – when they’re not in those squirming scrums from which come alarming grunting noises as the men struggle for that ball.
Eastwood is wise to the humor and thrills that come with such scenes, and knows you don’t need anyone around to Explain It All.
That’s an example of how his nothing-fancy style works to make Invictus such a guilt-free crowd-pleaser.
Eastwood adopts a flat, uninflected style for Invictus, wisely letting this remarkable story tell itself with a minimum of flourish or underlining. The result is a thoroughly absorbing, inspiring movie that, like last year’s Milk, features one of the year’s most galvanizing performances. Freeman doesn’t merely impersonate Mandela as much as personify not just political genius but an almost superhuman suppleness of character. Rugby is exciting, sure, but there’s nothing more thrilling than radical forgiveness in action.
It is also fleshed out with well-sketched minor players and subplots that illuminate the progress of racial rapprochement in its comic human dimension. The black bodyguards and their white colleagues proceed from hostility to wary tolerance to guarded warmth in a way that is pointed without being overstated. And that, for the most part, characterizes Mr. Eastwood’s direction, which is always unassuming, unhurried and efficient.
In this film he tells a big story through a series of small, well-observed moments, and tells it in his usual blunt, matter-of-fact way, letting the nuances take care of themselves.
It’s also a win-win situation in which a mainstream feature works equally well as stirring entertainment and a history lesson about a remarkable convergence of sports and statesmanship.
Eastwood’s modest approach to these momentous events shames the usual Hollywood showboating. In a rare achievement, he’s made a film that truly is good for the soul.
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.
— William Ernest Henley