Dahil hindi ako makatulog at medyo napupurga na 'ko kay Percy, pinanuod ko na sa wakas ang matagal ko nang dapat panuorin – ang latest film ni Clint Eastwood na Invictus (2010).
Matagal tagal ko na ring hindi napanuod sina Matt Damon at Morgan Freeman. Ang huli ko ata kay Freeman ay sa Million Dollar Baby (2004) pa. Ang kay Matt naman, ay nuong 2007 sa The Borne Ultimatum. In fairness, na miss ko sila – lalo na si Papa Matt!
Pero mas na miss ko si Clint Eastwood. Hindi naman sa madalang, pero halos isang beses lang sa isang taon siya kung gumawa ng pelikula. The last of course was the ever-painful film Changeling (2008) which nominated Angelina Jolie in Best Actress category last year sa Oscar's.
Kahit miss ko na si Clint, lagi akong nagdadalawang isip panuorin ang mga pelikula n'ya. Naturalistic kase. Man (and Woman) is helpless daw against the law of society. Nature predicts the fate of man (and woman for that matter). Madilim ang mga istorya n'ya. Nakakatakot. Para siyang si Brocka.
Remember Bridges of Madison County (1995)? Hanggang ngayon, the cruel fate of Francesca Johnson and Robert Kincaid still haunts me whenever I reminisce their love story. What about Mystic River (2003)? Can you still remember the line by Jimmy (as played by Sean Penn) "if only you were a little faster?" And Changeling (2008)? Who would not finch an eyebrow during the scene when the kid Stanford Clark (played brilliantly by Eddie Alderson) gave his testimony about the abduction of kids and midnight killings?
Kaya naman kahit halos isang buwan na ung kopya ng Invictus sa DVD shelf ko, hindi ko pinapanuod. Pero napanuod ko na. At isa lang masasabi ko: he got a new philosophy now!
After his release from a 26-year exile, Nelson Mandela (Freeman) returned to politics in the mid-90s to regain his popularity and eventual return to power. When he became the first black president of South Africa, he was faced with tons of political concerns and issues rooting from the apartheid system. Bukod sa dun, marami ring ayaw sa kanya…ang mga white Africans (known in the film and the book as the Africanas). Siempre, hindi ganung kadali na magkaroon ng presidenteng bago sa paningin nila at dating akbitista. Threat si Mandela nun para sa kanila. Ang feeling nga nila, sila ang sisimulang i-segregate ng bagong presidente. But Mandela has another thing in mind. Something that will work for both sides. Something that will "balance black aspirations and white fears." Doon n'ya sinimulan ang crusade n'ya.
Sikat nung mga panahon na 'un ang rugby. Hindi ung solvent – tanga! – ung laro. Ung larong rugby. South Africa has it's own rugby team. The Springboks, na mainly comprised of Africanas.Kung tutuusin, isa lang ang non-white sa team nila, si Chester Williams (Hendricks). Captain nila si Francois Pienaar (Damon). Pero kahit sila ang ka-isa isang flag bearer ng South Africa sa rugby, at kahit sikat ang larong ito sa bansa nila, mas gusto ng mga itim na kumampi sa sino mang kalaban ng Springboks. Unfortunately, malas lagi ang Springboks. Madalas kasi silang talunan. Hindi naman affected ang mga tao kasi nga hindi naman sila gusto because most of the people who are into rugby belong to the black majority.
Dun pumasok si Mandela. He believed that if he gets Springbok to win the 1995 World Cup, he can unite the entire nation that is South Africa. Nanalo ba sila? Sasabihin ko na. Oo, they won. Check your history books and it's there.
Invictus the film is based on the book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation. Invictus by John Carris. And like Changeling, it is also inspired by a true story. Syempre, totoo si Mandela at Francois noh?! But Invictus has a more different theme compared to Eastwood's film two years ago. Formulaic, parang Sister Act 1 (1992) and 2 (1993). Parang Dangerous Minds (1995), at iba pang mga pelikula at istorya na nagsimula sa problema at natapos sa masayang celebrations kasi nanalo sila or something to that effect.
Isa lang yata ang napanuod kong may ganitong istorya at hindi nanalo sa katapusan – at yun ay sa pelikula ni Michael Ritchie na The Bad News Bears (1976).
Aminin natin na pulpol na ang ganitong plot structure. Kahit ang Glee (2009) ganun din. Pero kahit na ganung kagasgas at sobrang predictable, gustong gusto pa rin nating panuorin. Bakit 'ka n'yo? Kase inspiring. Kase nakakapag-bigay sa atin ng pag-asa.
But what I think made the movie great were the performances by Damon and Freeman. They created new roles for themselves that will be cherished in the years to come. Damon, on the one hand, portrayed the pessimistic and inconsistent Francois Pienaar of the 1994 Springbok rugby team. Though arguably one of the best young Hollywood actors, Damon was able to showcase his talent by showing how Francois developed from a nega-star to a believer. I also like to commend him for the extra effort on the accent. Of course Leonardo di Caprio was also made to project an African accent in Blood Diamond (2006), but Damon's discourse and intonation in the entire film made me adore him even more.
On the other hand, Freeman gave a performance worthy of Dionysus. His portrayal of the outsized contemporary hero that is Mandela is somewhat out of the box and innovative. Hindi siya idealist dito. As a matter of fact, Freeman gave Mandela another angle which gave this African Nobel Prize winner a more personal touch. Mandela here is a pragmatist, who believes that if an idea works satisfactorily – it is enough to change even an entire nation. More so, the Mandela that I saw is someone who, despite the lack of affection from his family, finds other ways on how to unite a bigger African family .
Of course, I have to give credit to Eastwood, as well. In this film, he was able to again create a great contribution to the list of films that have the same genre. In Invictus, he proved that he is a great story teller by managing the two separate areas of his story – politics and sports, and telling it in a reasonably paced manner. In fairness talaga, hindi nakaka-bore ang film.
Another aspect is the fact that Eastwood probably knew that the film's climax may not be as surprising and as heartwarming as he expects it to be. Kaya naman during the rising action, he put devices and add-ons to plant possible smile-triggers in the end for his more pessimistic viewers.
Nabiktima n'ya ako actually. Dahil alam ko na ang ending, I was not expecting to cry and/or cheer after the victory. But he was able to make me smile and eventually laugh when the payoffs came just before the climax. In this respect, despite it being predictable, Eastwood successfully made everyone smile at the end of a familiar, predictable story.
Bilang isang Pinoy na manunuod, nakita kong nauna pala ang Africa sa mga biglaang pagtigil ng mga kalsada at mga panandaliang pagkakaisa ng mga bansa sa tuwing may isang sports event. Hindi lang pala si Pacquiao ang ka-una-unahang nagpatahimik ng mga langsangan sa tuwing may laban siya. Nangyari na 'to nuon pa sa Africa nang maki-alam ang isang pinuno sa paglalaro ng isang national team. Ngayon ko na-realize how one's culture, identity and victory are inter-related to promote unity, respect and acceptance.
Invictus? Highly recommended!