Posts Tagged ‘invictus’

A Review of Clint Eastwood’s “INVICTUS” Movie

Friday, December 18th, 2009

by, Peter J. Mancus

Attorney at Law


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Clint Eastwood’s “INVICTUS” movie about the transition of political power in South Africa from whites to blacks, led by Nelson Mandela, played well by actor Morgan Freeman, is a well done, enjoyable, uplifting, worth seeing movie even though I doubt it will become a serious contender for an Academy Award.

The promos for this movie include this concept: South Africans needed a leader; Mandela gave them a champion [or became their champion].

INVICTUS is 100% consistent with that theme.

The white South African political-legal elites incarcerated Nelson Mandela for thirty years. This movie does not explain why. When Mandela was not reading in his cell, he was outside, pounding big rocks into smaller ones–for thirty years. He read to improve his mind, to learn about his perceived enemy, the white South Africans, so he could use what he learned against them. He did that well–exceedingly well, and wisely, when he was released and elected South Africa’s president.

The movie opens with whites playing rugby in a lush green field on one side of a road with blacks playing the same game on a dusty dirt field when a motorcade came down the road. Mandela’s entourage constituted that motorcade, which was on its way for Mandela to assume his seat of power as South Africa’s newly elected president. As the motorcade passed, the poor black rugby players cheered him and an umpire or a coach for the white rugby players–on the other side of the road–predicted that Mandela will prove to be a horribly ineffective leader . . . and worse, e.g., a murdering bastard and a thief, or words to that effect. That road in that movie divided the poor blacks from the affluent whites not only economically but also in attitude and expectations.

The next scenes show actor Morgan Freeman, as Mandela, walking through an opulent building with many whites carrying boxes, as if they are emptying offices. Mandela called for an entire staff meeting. The former white president’s staff attended. Mandela told them: 1) if you cannot support me and work with me, you should leave, but, you are welcome to stay; 2) you have expertise that I need, that we need, that your country needs; and 3) this is the time for reconciliation. Apparently, most or many of the white staff elected to stay and work with him. Mandela also told the blacks, who grossly outnumbered the whites [I think a character in the movie said the ratio was approximately 63, 000 whites to 44 million blacks!], they should throw their weapons into the sea and not fight among themselves and not take up arms against the whites who had oppressed them for decades. Apparently, what Mandela told the blacks and the whites surprised both groups, to the relief of the whites.

At this point in the story-line, the promo theme [they needed a leader and he gave them a champion,] began to mature and ring true. Since the whites incarcerated Mandela for thirty years it would have been human and understandable if Mandela used his presidential powers to inflict a callous revenge against the whites; however, there is no suggestion in this movie that Mandela did anything along those lines.

Early in the movie some whites showed up at an office for Mandela’s black bodyguards, which stunned those bodyguards, who looked at the whites with disbelief. Apparently, the whites were part of the former white establishment security forces who used lethal force against the blacks. The black bodyguards told the whites to get out, and the whites refused to leave. Instead, they showed the blacks a letter appointing them as Mandela’s bodyguards, apparently signed by Mandela. A black bodyguard rushed to and confronted Mandela, demanding to know if this appointment letter was legitimate. To his amazement, Mandela confirmed that he signed the appointment because the whites have expertise that he/they/we need, one of Mandela’s core policies is “reconciliation”, and it was vital that the masses see white and black bodyguards working together to protect Mandela.

That black bodyguard did not like what Mandela told him, but he returned to the room and acted as if the whites had a right to be there, which caused another black bodyguard to leave to confirm that it was a legitimate appointment.

Throughout most of the movie there is a strained relationship between the white and the black bodyguards. The blacks had good cause to be suspicious that the whites would plot to murder Mandela, and the whites had problems adjusting to working with blacks who they use to have a snarly relationship with, as in, they oppressed them, murdered them under color of law, and incarcerated them.

Mandela’s advisors urged him to ban the game of rugby, but Mandela rejected that advice. He told his advisors that when he was imprisoned he studied what the whites wrote and loved. He said the whites love rugby, and, if he banned them from playing rugby that ban would cause great turmoil, which he wanted to avoid. Mandela’s judgment regarding that advice was uncanny and excellent.

Mandela reached out to the South African’s national rugby team’s white captain, played well by actor Matt Daimon. Mandela inspired and motivated that team to win the world rugby cup, against great odds. How Mandela inspired the South African team is the core of this movie and it reflects exceedingly well on Mandela, portraying him to be a wise, farsighted, compassionate leader, and a statesman.

There is a tension filled scene with a Boeing 747 flying lower and lower toward a coliseum with Mandela in attendance. That low approaching jumbo jet unnerved Mandela’s security staff. To avoid spoiling that part of the movie for you I decline to tell you what happened regarding that jet.

One part of the movie that I thoroughly enjoyed was the beautiful sounding, yet unnerving, “war chant” and hostile faces made by the New Zealand Maori [sp?] rugby team before the start of a rugby match with the South African team. I was disappointed that the South African team did not respond with something along the lines of a Zulu war chant; however, a Zulu war chant by a predominantly all white South African team would have been peculiar.

The close up, extensive, “you are there” [e.g., on the field, as a player] rugby scenes are well done. During those scenes my wife whispered to me exactly what I was thinking, “Rugby is a tougher sport than American football–no helmet, no pads.” Before watching this movie I did not know that they actually tackle and there is a lot of hard hitting body contact in rugby. Eastwood excels at telling a story indirectly via small details. During one rugby game, a poor black youth carrying a bag approached a cop car with some white cops who were listening to the game on their car’s radio. The cops were snarly with this kid and chased him off, but the kid wanted to remain close so he could listen to the game. This kid stayed a distance from the cops and looked through a bag. I suspected the kid might pull out a gun or an explosive and use same against the cops. As the game proceeded, as the South African rugby team did well, the cops allowed this kid to get closer and closer to them, when all of them were wrapped up in the game. They became bonded, somewhat reconciled, all–together–cheering for their team, their country, regardless of race. Eastwood periodically left the scene of this black kid with these cops and returned to it often. There are scenes with the black kid leaning on the cops’ car, sitting on it, and, when the game was over, the cops held the kid up high in the air and approvingly rubbed their hands in his hair, with the kid beaming joy.

There is another scene at a rugby stadium with two signs that say “ONE TEAM” and “ONE COUNTRY”. I construed that to be a manifestation of Mandela’s policy of reconciliation. When I saw what those two signs said I thought to myself, A) the USAF commonly has large cargo planes painted with a tail flash that says “TEAM LITTLE ROCK” or “TEAM ABC”, indicating the airplane’s home base; B) I am confident that such individuality spurs esprit and team cohesion, which are good things; C) I also thought about a political cartoon I once saw that showed two men dressed in Arab garb, both carrying AK-47′s, jumping over something, looking at each other with a zealots’ look, screaming at each other, “I am fighting for the freedom to enslave you!” Ponder that. Is that what freedom means–the power to enslave another group? That is not my concept of freedom, of democracy, of constitutionalism, or the “American way of life.”; D) I also thought Saddam Hussain did not embrace a policy of reconciliation for Iraqi Sunni’s and Shiite’s. Saddam, instead, ruled with an iron fist, keeping a tight control over both groups, while doing nothing to reconcile the two; E) Mandela’s policy of reconciliation between whites and blacks is analogous to Abraham Lincoln’s policy of “with malice toward none” and “reconstruction” for the defeated Southern states after the North won the American Civil War in the mid 1860′s; and F) finally, I thought it is tragic that in the U.S.A., the American people, its office holders and its ordinary citizens, do not think of themselves as “ONE TEAM” and “ONE COUNTRY” joined and united by a significant invisible legal clue, namely, the concept that the U.S. Constitution, with its Bill of Rights, is Mankind’s greatest achievement, and we are all Americans, united and joined together in pursuit of the ideals of Equality, Liberty, Justice, Due Process of Law, Accountability, and No Man is Above the Law, and we all obey our Constitution’s commands and text, as written, instead of as perverted by many officials and many ordinary citizens.

The patently pathetic reality for the U.S.A. is this: 1) The idea that the U.S.A. is the only place on Earth where No Man is Above the Law, where there is Equal Justice for All, where the U.S. government and its agents honor the Constitution’s command of “Due Process of Law”, is a damn lie, arguably, the biggest lie of the Twentieth and the Twenty-First Centuries. The Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave, and the Land of Sweet Liberty, has become, and is, in many ways, a Land of Sour Disappointment and Frustration and Usurpations of Power and Hypocrisy, a wretched dung heap, a political-legal-economic mine field, where there is a huge gap between this nation’s professed ideals and the real world perversion of them. For example, “Due Process of Law”, in practice, means governments’ agents have empowered themselves, by shuffling the laws like a card shark shuffles a deck, to dish out only that measure of “process” which they deem citizens are “due”. Worse: the Fudges [namely, judges who fudge on the law, who no longer function as Guardians of Liberty, who no longer function as a meaningful check and balance on usurpations by governments’ agents] rubber stamp usurpations with abandonment and disingenuously wipe their ass with the Constitution in the process as they pump out more of their judicial junk in the form of court orders, rulings, and case decisions, as they disingenuously construe the U.S. Constitution and cite their own case decisions as authority for their usurpations. The United States is plagued with political whores whose staple political stratagem is to concoct and to drive “wedge issues” between citizens, dividing them, and turning them against one another, while selectively cherry picking those parts of the U.S. Constitution they like and while refusing to enforce those parts they dislike or find to be inconvenient.

The U.S.A. needs a statesman, a wise leader, someone who approaches Mandela’s far ranged wisdom, which includes a need for reconciliation. The Democrats and the Republicans, the Liberals and the Conservatives, in the U.S.A., as a group, lack statesmen, and they do not effectively pursue reconciliation with fidelity to what the U.S. Constitution commands. The real political, legal, economic, and social battles in the U.S.A. today are between the Constitutionalists [who want to adhere to our Constitution’s commands, per that document’s text, as written] versus everyone else [Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, and all minor political parties.]

I will not tell you how INVICTUS ends, but, I will tell you that toward the end, there is a scene at a stadium where a white man suddenly hugs one of Mandela’s black bodyguards. That bodyguard’s reaction said a lot. INVICTUS is inspirational.

Mandela lead by inspiration, not intimidation.

Inspiration is wiser and better.