While predictable and occasionally plodding, Invictus is worth seeing simply to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s moral fortitude and “unconquerable soul.” It’s hard to imagine spending 27 years in a small cell and emerging with clarity of vision and a a heart full of forgiveness. Clint Eastwood’s new movie also illustrates that Mandela understood the delicate craft of culture building in a democracy. Clint tried hard to make rugby appealing with lots of slow motion scrums but it still seems ridiculous to me.
Mandela kept Invictus, a poem by William Ernest Henley, on a scrap of paper in his cell but wikipedia suggests that he didn’t in reality give it to Pienaar (played by Matt Damon). Nevertheless, it makes for good film and a reminder of this triumphant poem written from Henley’s hospital bed.
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 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.