Last night I went to see Clint Eastwood’s latest film, Invictus (which translates to unconquerable), and I have to say that Eastwood only gets better with time. He has to be one of the better contemporary American directors. With the exception of Million Dollar Baby (a good first half besmirched by a banal second half), Eastwood rarely disappoints.
As usual, Eastwood is consumed by the revenge theme, it’s intended and mostly unintended consequences. Unforgiven was a masterpiece in this regard -- one of Eastwood’s best movies.
Morgan freeman does a fine job as Nelson Mandela, though I just couldn’t get with his South African accent. Maybe it’s me, I don’t know (BTW, I found many corollaries between Mandela's crisis of leadership and Obama's).
In any case, at a crucial point in the film, Mandela proposes that art can inspire us all to greatness. He mentions a poem that kept his spirit alive as he endured the unspeakable brutality of prison. I often claim that art kept me alive when the will to live seemed most weak. An intricately constructed Faulkner paragraph, a line from Neruda, Chagal’s sublime sense of the color blue -- all these and more were like food for my soul when I most needed it. It reminded me of the time when I was in solitary confinement and the luxury of great literature made that cell livable for me.
Here is the poem Mandela references and which forms the title of Eastwood’s film...
* * *
-=[ Invictus ]=-
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.