Nelson Mandela was one of those names I grew up hearing quite often without actually knowing too much about him. Difficult to believe now but when I was a child I only knew the name from Nelson Mandela Park in Leicester or Nelson Mandela House in the BBC comedy series ‘Only Fools & Horses’. It wasn’t until he was released from prison that I really found out the important facts. The 1995 Rugby World Cup soon followed which the South Africans won on home soil spurred on by their then-new inspirational leader and that is what the new Clint Eastwood directed film ‘Invictus’ is about. The film is released in Japan on February 5th but I managed to see it the other week thanks to the wonders of the internet.
I am a fan of Matt Damon (who plays the Springbok Captain Francois Pienaar) and Morgan Freeman (as Mandela) is a legendary actor and while their South African accents seem OK to me (lets be honest, I am not the best person to judge what is a good accent) I don’t think they’re as good as Leonardo DiCaprio’s in ‘Blood Diamond’.
The political side of the movie is very interesting and while I can’t really fault the main actors it is the usual scenario for re-creating sporting action which bothers me. The final was played in Johannesburg but in the film it is clearly played in Cape Town and at the start of the game the kick off is one of the tamest kicks which seemingly only travels a few metres which is technically an infringement. Also, the film does not at any time mention the fact that the All-Blacks squad were sick with food poisoning. No doubt there are a few other innaccuracies which I didn’t notice from just one viewing of the movie. What I did see while watching the end credits (I wanted to see if there were actually any professionals used for the teams) was that my country was shown as England Rose’s rather than just England which is just the kind of Americanisation thing that annoys us Brits.
Overall, it is a film about the South African nation coming together (although the events in the film are portrayed as solving the country’s problems) and if you just treat it like the Hollywood production which it is and forget (or don’t know) about the Rugby side of it then its enjoyable. After all, its not a Rugby film but one of Mandela’s first presidential term after the fall of apartheid.