Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Invictus Review: Feel-Good Sports Movie Meets Indie Flick

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 Ernst Henley

When my friends and I arrived at Edwards IMAX Cinema in Mira Mesa, we didn't quite know what to watch. Most of us had already seen Avatar or Sherlock Holmes, so we chose Invictus without a lot of confidence. I didn't even know what it was about, but I was told it was apparently about "rugby and politics." Oh boy, two things I don't know anything about (Once in a while I dabble in politics but it's a nice mess to stay out of altogether).

The film started out pretty slow, with Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela, former President of post-apartheid South Africa. I thought, oh boy, I don't know anything about this guy or his country. Sad not-history buff me. But little did I now this was a Clint Eastwood film, and he, my friends, is a man if there ever was one (have you SEEN Gran Torino?).

I think Freeman did a wonderful job playing the apartheid-prisoner-gone-hero, a grandfatherly stubborn man. I learned quite a lot about rugby and a little about history and the terrible cruelty that occurs when human beings not so different from each other decide to see the world in discriminatory shades of black and white. It was heart-warming to watch a country come together, maybe too good to be true you say, but it raised my spirits and made me feel proud to be a human being (nowadays many movies assert the contrary).

It's rare that I take away something from a movie these days, but from this little somewhat indie film (there were maybe 4 other people in the theatre with us), I learned a lot about compassion for a national sport, communication, and tolerance. In the movie, Mandela says, "How am I to expect my country to move forward if I don't forgive?" That brings into light something I don't do enough, forgive and forget. We should all aspire to be the most successful, happiest people we can be, but we must also remember that sometimes the best feeling and highest achievement is reaching down to help others out of the pit in which you were trapped for a long time. Sometimes being the bigger person isn't just something to brag about, but it's necessary for peace. My views on world peace are a completely different matter (I don't think it's practically achievable due to many conditions) - but there is such a thing as local peace, and very importantly, inner peace.

History is worth learning, because it's the story of people just like us, living out their lives, interconnected with the billions of others around them.


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