HIS PEOPLE NEEDED A LEADER. HE GAVE THEM A CHAMPION.
In 1995, South African President Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) realizes that the key to healing the racial divide is to inspire the national rugby team to win the World Cup, hosted by the country for the first time since the end of apartheid. Mandela was wise to understand the importance of lifting the spirits of the traditionally all-white Springboks, and the story is engagingly told by a director who has frequently addressed racism in the autumn years of his career. Excellent performances, especially by Freeman who has done a good job of studying Mandela’s mannerisms. It’s a solid production, but not as remarkable as one would wish.
2009-U.S. 137 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Lori McCreary, Mace Neufeld. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Screenplay: Anthony Peckham. Book: John Carlin (“Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation”). Cast: Morgan Freeman (Nelson Mandela), Matt Damon (François Pienaar), Tony Kgoroge (Jason Tshabalala), Julian Lewis Jones, Adjoa Andoh, Patrick Mofokeng.
Trivia: Mandela allegedly once said that only Freeman could play him.
Last word: “Between [Clint and me], we’ve probably been on 100 different film sets, and it doesn’t get any better than the way that he runs it. Clint says, ‘Look, I hire the best people I can and I put them in a position to do their best work, and I get out of the way and take credit for all their stuff.’ He’s got this crew that just is the top flight crew, with every key and every person working under that key, for every department. You walk on some movie sets and it’s like walking into an emergency room, and you’re like ‘We’re just making a movie here.’ And, that tension bleeds into the performances and the film itself. Clint just runs an incredibly tight ship. It’s very laid back. Because we all have experience working on other movie sets, everyone is aware that they’ve been given enough space to do everything they need to do. If you need something, it’s given to you. If the key of a department says “I need this,” or the camera department says, ‘I’d like this,’ it shows up. It’s just very easy. We’ve been entrusted to do our jobs. And then, he’ll occasionally come over and give a little bit of direction, but it’s not a lot of chatter. It’s just a little suggestion here, or a little suggestion there. After you do a take, Clint’s favorite saying is, ‘Well, let’s move on and not fuck this up by thinking about it too much.'” (Damon, Collider)