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
Looms but the Horror of the
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
— William Ernest Henley
By Charly SHELTON
This is the poem that Nelson Mandela read while in prison in South Africa. He said it gave him hope and lifted him up when all he wanted to do was lie down. This is the title of the film as well because it will do the same for you.
The Clint Eastwood helmed, inspiring true story is of then newly elected President Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) and his battle against racial and societal prejudices in the hotbed of activity after apartheid ended in his country. Arguments over white or black, new or old, and Springbok rugby (South African) or English rugby teams. President Mandela came together with Bok Team Captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) to work for victory and to unite the country through this pastime. Some said that he was wasting his time on rugby instead of working toward political changes. But, as shown in the film, the Rugby World Cup of 1995 was the only avenue to change, illustrating that a country united in support can work to be a country united in other efforts.
This is a great movie. Come Oscar time, you will be hearing the title thrown around a lot, especially when talking about best actor category. Morgan Freeman played Mandela so well that all the way through the film you never think, “Gee, Morgan Freeman is doing great. He’s really believable.” It doesn’t even enter your mind that it is Morgan Freeman. He is always a great actor, and this is no exception, but this role far exceeds any other role he has done in recent memory. He even brings out the best in Damon who is a hit or miss kind of actor. But this is a hit for him.
Eastwood’s story choice as a director has been called vengeful and angry. And when you look at his resume, that shines through: Play Misty For Me, Mystic River, Changeling and most recently Gran Torino. All are tales of revenge and anguish. But this one is different. Instead of revenge on those who mistreated and imprisoned him, Mandela preaches forgiveness. Instead of anger, there is hope in a new nation united under peace. This stands out among the other films as more uplifting than many of his other films from the last decade.
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. This film is good for anyone 18 and up because the length, 134 minutes, and subject matter – Rugby World Cup as a political tool to unite a racially parted country after an election in the post-apartheid South Africa – may be too much for children and teens to handle. It’s not a material issue, just a strong, very wordy and political plot.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. I would go higher if I could. Come Oscar time, I will be pulling for this film.