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I venture this autobiographical self-indulgence only to demonstrate that you really, really don't need to be a sports fan to enjoy this extraordinary film. What it's fundamentally about is the great Nelson Mandela, and how, released from a quarter-century's imprisonment to save his country from the septic trauma of apartheid, he saw how the Springboks might help to heal South Africa's terrible injury.
The invaluable Matt Damon, surely as reliable a star as any, gives a powerfully eloquent performance as the Springboks' much-burdened captain, but the film is dominated by Morgan Freeman's masterly portrait of the president. A more perfect conjunction of actor and role it's difficult to imagine: this, I feel, is the part Morgan was born to play. The rest of the huge cast is without a weak link, and Clint Eastwood's direction is as assured as I've come to expect, whether capturing minute nuances of character, putting us amidst the violent drama of the rugby pitch, showing us the beauty of Table Mountain and the poverty of a shanty town or celebrating the splendour of a crowd of sixty thousand in an ecstasy of patriotic fervour.
Warner Brothers have done a fine job of preparing their film for blu-ray. Although the picture doesn't quite match the startling sharpness of the very best demonstration discs, neither does it have any grungy grain to complain about, and the audio gives an equally good account of some magnificent music and the thuds and roars of rugby action. The extras are very generous.
This is, I think, as uplifting a film as I can remember. The tale of Mandela's heroism, wisdom and magnanimity is surely one of the most inspiring of our era. I doubt whether anyone could reach the closing credits of this disc without feeling very, very lucky to have watched it.
The digital copy that comes with this film has a code that Expires on 14/06/2011 which means that you will be unable to transfer the digital copy after this date. I bought my copy on 12th July 2011, I tried it anyway and had the "code is expired" message - no joy in trying get around it either as it connects to the Warner Server to authorise the transer/download. The Warner Bros support site is not much help either as it simply states that the digital copy is a "bonus" and the code should have been redeemed by the cut off date. Aparently this is what Warner do to "reward" people who buy the film early on dvd/blu ray. I have emailed them about it, asking for a new one off code, but again they simply told me it was a bonus that has expired there was nothing they could do and that was that. A bit harsh, but there we go.
So, while you do get the Blu ray and DVD versions of this great film at a pretty good price, you won't (sadly) be getting the digital copy if you buy it from after 15th June 2011 making this a "double play" not "triple play" version.
This is steering stuff with Morgan Freeman giving a stunning performance of Mandela. Just why he didn't receive an Oscar for this performance is something only the vagaries of the Academy award system can tell us. He looks like and sounds like the great man himself - it's worth watching the movie just for this one performance. Elsewhere the movie is solidly cast with one unfortunate exception. Well as Matt Damon acts as the Springbok captain François Pienaar, he is simply not physically big enough to be credible in the role. Pienaar was a huge man in every respect and Damon just doesn't have the size to convince. The rugby scenes are quite well done but not in the same league as, say, the action scenes in Friday Night Lights.
However, the rugby is actually incidental to the main action of the film which is about a great statesman rising above the prejudice and hate that were fundamental to the country he inherited. Do see this movie and be inspired.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really enjoyed this true story of the South African rugby team and their rise from obscurity to win the world cup. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Beverley Tennant
This is an amazing and true story of what was going on at the time. The acting is believable and not cardboard. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Allan
A great film and a must for anyone who is interested in the plight of the black South Africans particularly in the 20th century as well as the iconic leader Mandela.Published 2 months ago by BRIAN