Wednesday, March 17, 2010


*Clint Eastwood (direction) *2009 *133m *Morgan Freeman as Mandela *

This film is an authentic glimpse into the mind of Nelson Mandela. "This country is hungry for greatness," he says. He has a vision of society and depth of character forged in long years of incarceration. He wants to put behind the memory of apartheid and any thoughts of vengeance, and to build a harmonious multi-racial society, the rainbow nation. A person who has endured so long owes himself more than revenge. His years in prison put him in a unique position to set an example of the Christian virtue of forgiveness. After winning the country's first fully representative election and becoming President, he decides, to start with, by having a multiracial personal body guard.

The film is based on the book by Carlin, The Game That Made a Nation. The movie focuses on the 1995 rugby world cup in which South Africa is represented by the all-white hitherto much hated Springboks team. Mandela makes this tournament his inspired weapon to meld the hearts of races of South Africa. He puts his entire being and charisma and presidential power behind the match, making victory in this tournament a national objective. The alchemy works as it does on those rare occasions when a million hearts beat together, at least for a while. One is reminded of the clarion call which was Gandhi's great salt march. The battlefield is not the only place where history is made.

Morgan Freeman gives a more than adequate portrayal, capturing the body language, speech and spirit of his character. The phenomenon of a nation gripped by sports fever and the excitement of the game itself, the modern version of the gladiatorial struggle, kept me easily glued for the running time,

It's also worth preserving the poem which inspired Mandela in prison and whose title lends it's name to the film:

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.

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