well, a few years ago when i heard that Clint Eastwood was going to make a film about the 95 World Cup here in SA, with no less than the very American Matt Damon playing the very South African Francois Pienaar, i like many assumed it to be an interesting and odd joke. the one thing that suggested that this might be happening and not some sort of odd spoof story was the fact that Morgan Freeman was annouced as being cast for the role of Nelson Mandela.
a few years later, and a thoroughly enjoyable 2+ hours of viewing, i am delighted that this was indeed a true story and not a bad joke!
Invictus is one of the most remarkable, passionate and accurate films i have ever had the luck to see. one always hears how "historical" films play around with facts but, having lived through the time depicted in this film, i am happy to say that's not the case here. one or two bits of "poetic licence" have been taken with some of the casting choices, to be fair, but events haven't been changed or manipulated dramatically to suit a better story. well, with such a wonderful true story, who on earth would want to fabricate something?
certainly not Clint Eastwood, a man who has legend status because of his acting alone, but is fast establishing that title in regards of his directorial work too.
the casting of Morgan Freeman as the beloved, respected Nelson Mandela seems to be one of those forces of nature at work. it's almost as if he was born to play the part; certainly Mr Mandela suggested that he would only really want him to portray him in any sort of film. whereas the near-perfect accent Morgan Freeman uses in the film every now and then dips into a slight American twang, he gives an otherwise note perfect performance, delivering all the warmth, compassion and understanding of one of the single most remarkable men to walk this earth.
the talk is of Morgan Freeman collecting the Oscar, as well as all the other major acting awards, for his work on this film. this would be a very worthy winning performance.
in the shadow of Morgan Freeman's performance is one of the finest ever acting performances delivered by Matt Damon. as hinted at above, the Matt Damon we all know is considerably shorter and darker haired than Francois Pienaar, the man who led South Africa to the 1995 World Cup. Matt Damon himself, when he met Francois, questioned the wisdom of Eastwood casting him in the role; as it turns out Clint clearly saw the right stuff and was spot on in insisting he take the part.
with some luck the critics who pass judgement on films for awards will not get so far carried away with the dazzling Morgan Freeman that they don't notice the splendid, sterling work done by Matt Damon in this film.
Invictus does not tell the whole, full and complete story of South Africa, Nelson Mandela or even Francois Pienaar for that matter. at no stage does it claim to. what it does do, admirably, is capture a moment - a very important moment - in the history of this fine, beautiful land and tells the tale of it in a manner that no one could do better.
there's a great danger that the rather popular, mostly computer generated film Avatar will dominate most viewing and awards in respect of the films of 2009. it will be a great shame if it does so at the expense of Invictus, a film which rather has a good deal of heart, soul and storytelling in it instead of pretty flashing lights.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!