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Recommendation: Invictus

December 22, 2009

Just before I went home to visit my family, the Husband and I decided to go out to the movies, since he wasn’t going to be able to come with me. The movie we really wanted to see, Up in the Air with George Clooney, wasn’t in theatres near us yet. Lame. So, we decided to go to Invictus. I was sort of interested in seeing it, and I like Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, and Clint Eastwood‘s movies. As Peter Travers (movie reviewer for Rolling Stone) wrote in the most recent Rolling Stone, “Clint Eastwood, 80, blew through the decade on a creative high…” directing a whole mess of really good movies:

Mystic River
Million Dollar Baby
Flags of Our Fathers
Letters From Iwo Jima
Changeling
Gran Torino
Invictus

Unlike Peter Travers (who chose Mystic River for his Top 10 Movies of the Aughts), however, I do not have to pick just one to recommend. But for today, I’m recommending Invictus.

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Title: Invictus

Summary: After spending thirty years in prison, Nelson Mandela is freed and becomes the leader of a poor and angry South Africa. He knows that if the long-oppressed black South Africans can learn to forgive their oppressors, the white Afrikaners, the country will heal and grown strong. Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, decides that the first steps towards unity should be taken on the Rugby field, using the symbol of the Afrikaners, the Springbok rugby team.

Genre: action, historical, political, uplifting

Audience: Anyone who likes history, and movies about historical events; anyone who likes South African culture or music.

Occasion: This is a serious movie, so it’s not one to watch just for fun, or have on in the background at a lively party. I would watch it with a few close friends and some popcorn, one a quiet night when you want a serious but uplifting movie.

Watch every minute? Yes.

Big Screen vs. Small Screen: This is definitely one worth catching on the big screen, if you can. Some of the camera action on the rugby field is a little shaky, so if you’re easily nauseated, I would sit further back in the theater, but otherwise, definitely worth watching on as big a screen as possible.

Why I liked it: I knew that I would enjoy the movie, if only because it was done by Clint Eastwood (any more that’s reason enough to see a movie) and had several actors in it whose worked I often like (Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon). I also was raised by a man who was fascinated by South African music, and listened to it all the time when I was growing up (specifically the music of Johnny Clegg), and so had that point of interest as well. I don’t know diddly about Rugby, except that it involves a football shaped ball and it is popular among larger guys who like to drink a lot.

The movie was fascinating. It was interesting for me to learn more about South Africa and to hear the dialects spoken by the people there. It was interesting to learn more about Rugby and the struggles of Mandela and his party to unite South Africa. And it was incredibly uplifting and moving to watch the Springbok rugby team struggle to improve their chances to win the Rugby world cup, and to watch Mandela and the other black South Africans grow more and more enthused about a game that was played primarily by people who had oppressed them their entire lives. Clint Eastwood is a master at highlighting the character arch, and letting you watch how the characters change and evolve through the course of a movie in a way that seems completely natural and unstudied. It helps, of course, when he was incredibly talented actors with whom to work, but the movie just pulls you in and makes you care, viscerally, about the lives of the people on the screen.

There were some parts of the movie, especially near the end, that felt a little slow, but when it was over I recognized that those moments were creating tension and anticipation for the final Rugby game, which was well-worth the build-up.

“Own it” vs. “Once is enough”: I plan to own this movie, if only so I can show it to other people.

If you liked… You’ll also enjoy…: Gran Torino, Ghandi

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Coming Soon… Preview Reviews! “…”Everyone knows previews are the best part of going out to the movies. When we went to see Invictus, these were the previews

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