director: Clint Eastwood
writer: Anthony Peckham
starring: Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon
genre: Biopic | Drama | Sports
released: December 11, 2009 (U.S.)
I really don't know how to classify this film. Is it a biopic, a sports film, a history film? It's actually a little bit of everything and not only that, its also a odd movie choice from famed actor/filmmaker Clint Eastwood. Because whom would have ever thought, that he would make a Nelson Mandela biopic involving sports. However don't be fooled by the rugby, this is still very much Mandela's story.
Right after S. Africa's first full democratic election. Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) does his best to put the country back on track. He sees the hopes of his people and the displeasure and uncertainty of the white population, but always tried to bring the two long fought sides together.
One of the ways he achieved this was with helping the national rugby team be the world champion. An weird but effective method as we come to see in the film. Mandela develops a friendship with national team rugby captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) and try's to instill leadership and hope in the team through him. His goal is to make the national rugby team a symbol for the country and for everybody to unify under it. And it so happens Mandela was right with his decisions of being so interested in sports. As this can be a lesson to all that even with sports can you bring hope to people for a greater tomorrow.
What I enjoyed so much about the film was the political and historical aspects of the story. I was less interested when the rugby matches started. What the S. Africans were going through and how they were reacting to Mandela's government on-both sides was much more interesting to me.
Eastwood never made me feel attached to the rugby games. I cared more for the characters then the important matches they were involved in. If any part of the film made it less perfect it was its sports scenes. Anybody interested to see a true football/rugby film "Any Given Sunday" is your best bet.
It had been so long that Freeman had been connected to a Mandela biopic. Now that it finally came to fruition, people might be a bit surprised that this is not your typical biographical film. Even though it details the beginning of Mandela's government and his connections to rugby. We do not get a full picture of who Nelson Mandela was. Though it does tell us an interesting tale of how he made two hated sides unite and celebrate together through their national rugby team.