Invictus - Nice Movie, Shame About the Rugby

The Rolling Maul made a rare trip to the cinema last week, so in an effort to inspire some enthusiasm for the forthcoming Rugby season decided to see Invictus. As a movie going experience the evening rated four stars (any night out without the Junior Mauls is going to score highly) but as a Rugby experience barely two.

For those who aren't aware of the film it's about Nelson Mandela's love of Rugby (or perhaps Morgan Freeman's love of Nelson Mandela) and how it totally consumed his every waking hour from the moment he was incarcerated on Robbin Island up until Franciois Pienaar lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 1995. Or so you'd think if Invictus was any guide.

Indeed if Invictus is any guide you'd believe that the Springboks rose from bickering and thrashings to triumph over adversity for starters and the invincible Jonah Lomu All Blacks with no help at all courtesy of any food poisoning from any waitresses or as an inadvertent result of any other South African hospitality.

All the Springbok inspiration came from Nelson Mandela and a bus trip to Soweto where the local black kids embraced the white players and as a result the whole nation supported their 'journey'. These days of course the local black kids probably run for cover when yet another busload of Rugby players or cricketers descend on their township. "If it's Monday then it must be another bloody sporting team coming to show us how generous and sympathetic they are and to inspire us to be Springboks" they might say. Well it's worked so far!

But if the story line of Invictus is hard to swallow the story telling is just as unpalatable. The Rolling Maul should have anticipated it but Invictus is directed by Clint Eastwood so the writing was on the wall that this would be cliched stereotypical macho posturing nonsense with a flag waving feel good ending. This after all is the director of Million Dollar Baby, Flags of out Fathers and Gran Torino; each one a film designed to make Americans feel good about themselves and prove the great American Dream.

Invictus is the same dream just a different country but it's a story by Americans for Americans starring Americans with appalling accents (Matt Damon's Francois Pienaar accent ranges from Australian to gibberish and back again).

It's apparent too that Client Eastwood knows nothing about Rugby and while he's to be commended for a 6 minute sequence of a rolling maul is there some reason why the players need to sound like wildebeest migrating across the Serengeti? Why the nature documentary soundtrack when the normal noise of two straining forward packs is just as awe inspiring and attractive?

At least the players on the field are actual Rugby players (mostly - probably - maybe not) but it's not Rugby they're playing, more some odd schoolboy Rugby, touch football, soccer, grid iron combination with dubious player movements and nonsensical mysterious refereeing. So a bit like the Six Nations really.


Anonymous said…
No one was shot - are you sure it was a Clint Eastwood movie? (Andy Livingston)