Wednesday, 17 February 2010


I wonder if Clint Eastwood has learnt anything about rugby? Any film about Mandela starring Morgan Feeman has to be a sure-fire way of producing a winner. The film is very good - on a number of levels. Fundamentally, it reinforces that the move from apartheid to Rainbow Nation was driven by one man's obsession not inflict the hatred and loathing he had received, onto other people. Things had to be different - a new paradigm was required if the old pattern of hatred and distrust was to be broken.

The film is set 5-6 years after Mandela's release from Robin Island. It uses the vehicle of sport - rugby - as a means of bringing unity and providing energy for reconciliation. Mandela - respectful to everyone (even the children) - sees the potential for the forth-coming Rugby World Cup, hosted by South Africa, to be a catalyst for progress. He enlists the help of Francois Pienaar, the Springbok's Captain to help envision the team and through them the nation to a place of stronger self-belief in a shared future.

I was moved to tears on two or three occasions. there are some very powerful scenes and gestures.

The whole story is played out in the sub-plot of  Mandela's body-guard. The head is a black man who has worked with a team protecting Mandela since release from prison. When De Klerk's former body guards turn up - on the orders of Mandela - there is a palpable hostility between the groups. The blacks communicate in English, the whites in Afrikaans. As the Springboks progress, so the atmosphere between the body guards thaws and this is mirrored in the nation as a whole.

That was 16 years ago - it's a pity they haven't been able to maintain momentum.

I'll give this film 7/10

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