tardis_stowaway: TARDIS under a starry sky and dark tree (seasonally appropriate laugh)
[personal profile] tardis_stowaway
I saw Invictus today and enjoyed it quite a bit. It's about a truly inspiring time, the early days of Nelson Mandela's presidency of South Africa. They country had just left apartheid behind, but many blacks were still bitter about all those years of horrible oppression while many whites were extremely distrustful of the new government and angry about their own loss of power. The nation could so easily have fallen apart, but it didn't. There are a number of factors that kept South Africa from disintegrating, including the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, but Invictus focuses on two: Nelson Mandela and rugby. I could care less about rugby, but it was a good microcosm to show all the racially charged issues that South Africa had to cope with. Also, all of you Doctor Who fans will be interested to know that this movie has Adjoa Andoh, who played Francine Jones, playing one of Mandela's aids.

I spent five months in South Africa in college, studying at the University of Cape Town. I really enjoyed all the reminders of life in that country I got from the movie, everything from drop-dead gorgeous aerial shots of Cape Town to a passing mention of a proposal to make retailers charge extra for plastic bags. (This was established law by the time I visited in 2004. Why doesn't every nation do this?) It was nice to go into the film knowing a little bit extra about the underlying politics and symbolism, but the film explains enough that you don't really need prior knowledge. f you're interested, however, I recommend Nelson Mandela's autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. It's a well-told personal story of a truly remarkable man, but it is also a good introduction to recent South African history. Better yet, go to South Africa. Take me with you!

As for the film, it was quite good, though not truly great. I felt like it told most of the story it had in the first two-thirds or so, leaving the last third weighted down with too much slow-motion footage of large men slamming into each other while grunting a lot. Some bits toed the line between inspirational and trite. Matt Damon, playing the captain of the rugby team, did a decent South African accent but not much else. If you see only one 2009 movie about South Africa, it should be District 9. However, Invictus is still very much worthwhile. Bonus points: read this blog post on what Nelson Mandela's leadership in Invictus teaches us about how to tackle global warming.

I'm currently reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss. I correctly anticipated its appeal to my inner punctuation snob, but I never predicted how often it would make me laugh out loud. Consider this sentence about the Italian printer who, among other achievements, invented italics and printed the first semicolon: "That man was Aldus Mantius the Elder (1450-1515) and I will happily admit I hadn't heard of him until about a year ago, but am now absolutely kicking myself that I never volunteered to have his babies." Ha!
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tardis_stowaway: TARDIS under a starry sky and dark tree (Default)
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