Tag Archives: invictus movie

Nelson Mandela: I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The
brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ~
Nelson Mandela

It always seems impossible Nelson MandelaThis is one of my favorite quotes by Nelson Mandela, which I found when I was reading his book Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela several years ago. Like many people of my generation, I have a great admiration and I have found tremendous inspiration from this “simple” (he herded goats as a kid), yet so powerful man. While serving his life sentence in a high-security prison on an island with a similar setting as Alcatraz, he became THE symbol of political oppression, not just for South Africa, but for all the oppressed people in the world. His fortitude and resilience are what kept him alive, and his belief that peaceful, yet continuous attrition was the way to defeat Apartheid led to his liberation in 1990. I remember watching Nelson Mandela coming out from behind those prison walls, walking down the long road alone, as a symbol of his strength. After so many years of foreign pressure to free him, it seemed surreal to see him walking in the sunlight as a free man.

What’s even more inspiring about Mandela is how much he accomplished after he obtained his freedom. Already in his seventies, he worked with De Klerk to eliminate Apartheid once and for all, which led the two men to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, something inconceivable just a few years earlier.

Mandela quote - leave hatred behind

There are many books and movies about this amazing person, but my favorite has to be Invictus. It portrays Mandela’s first year as president, and his insistence on leading towards reconciliation, not revenge, as a way to unite his divided country as soon as possible. And one surprising way he did that was by insisting that the South African rugby team manages to win the Rugby World Cup, which was scheduled to take place in South Africa the next year. At the time, it seemed an impossible challenge, as that team happened to be the worst team of all world teams. You HAVE to see this movie to believe what Mandela was able to pull through. Don’t forget your box of tissues.

Mandela and the South African rugby team

Mandela and the South African rugby team

Nelson Mandela is the type of leader many country presidents aspire to be but will never become. That’s how you realize what a truly amazing Mandela was. One in a million. Today I am very sad to hear of Mandela’s passing, but I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to witness first hand this part of history. And one day I can tell my kids about it.

Invictus is a poem by William Ernest Henley. Mandela explained in the movie Invictus that reading this poem often while in prison was one way for him to keep his head high and follow his beliefs. When you read these words, you’ll understand how appropriate they are for him..

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

101 in 1001 update: Watch one new movie every other week

101 in 1001 challenge 72) Watch one new movie every other week

I don’t have cable TV and I watch just a few TV series online. Since TV series end in May and don’t start back until September, I’ve got a three-month window in the summer where I can find a little time to watch movies (and catch up on my 101 in 1001 challenge). I saw movies that made me cry, laugh, yawn and gag. I won’t list everything I saw but I’d like to highlight some of the best (and worst). If you have any movie recommendations, I’m all ears!

Invictus movieInvictus
The VERY BEST movie I watched so far this year. Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mendela during his first year as President of South Africa. The movie showcases Mendela’s efforts on reconciliation (the key word) across the country. Using the mediocre South African rugby team as a platform for his ideology, he aims to make the team successful in time for the Rugby World Cup. This is a true story of courage, hope and conviction. Nelson Mendela is one of my favorite heroes and I’m glad I now know this little part of his history. The title of the movie comes from the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley. Mendela said he read it very often during his 23 years of imprisonment to give him the strength to go on. You’ve probably heard the last two lines most often:
“I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”

The Descendants movieThe Descendants
This movie can appear quite depressing at first but it’s hard to be cheery when you deal with brain trauma and life support issues. George Clooney is a husband facing his wife’s end of life decisions and trying to be a father for his girls he hasn’t been close to in years. To lighten up the mood, there are some very, very funny moments in, and the ending is bittersweet but full of hope. If you saw this movie, I’d love to hear your impression of it.

Coco before Chanel movieCoco Avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel)
Although I’m French, I didn’t know much about Coco Chanel’s early life before I watched this movie. Now I can see how she became such a strong, fascinating woman. Her mother died when she was very young and her father abandoned Coco (originally Gabrielle) and her sister at an orphanage in their early teens. Yet she managed to become the most successful French businesswoman in history. Audrey Tautou does a great job at portraying Chanel too.

Green Lantern movieGreen Lantern
Besides enjoying the Batman movies with Christian Bale, I’m not a fan of superhero movies. I usually find them too dark or too serious when it comes to portraying grown men wearing funny costumes. That’s exactly why I really liked Green Lantern. It is light, fun and funny. And I think that’s why the superhero movie fans didn’t like it. Ryan Reynolds is such a smart ass in this role. Imagine him trying to guess how to turn on the power of the green lantern by guessing he should yell “To infinity and beyond!” at it. Now that’s my type of superhero movies!

Puss in boots moviePuss In Boots
This is now one of my kids’ favorite movies and I see why. Although I didn’t like the Shrek movies much, which were funnier for grown-ups than little kids (mine got bored), this movie is A LOT better. It’s full of adventure, suspense, humor, and twists and surprises, and you get to learn about each character pretty well. It’s definitely one of those movies you can watch over and over and enjoy every time.

And now, here are a few movies I wish I didn’t watch because I can’t get back those few hours of my life.

Bridesmaids movieBridesmaids
I have no idea why this movie had so much success at the box office. People said it was the female version of The Hangover, which wasn’t that great in the first place. But this movie is worse, a lot worse. Unless you enjoy watching gross bathroom humor for two hours. The main character was so pathetic, I wanted to flush her head down the toilet by the end. Or flush my head, I’m not sure. If it weren’t for the brilliant Melissa McCarthy stealing the show, I would have barfed from yawning too much.

Inception movieInception
If you’re smart, you know this movie was crap. If you think you’re smart, you probably loved it. Again, I have no idea why so many people loved this movie. I’ll give a lot of credit to the special effects. Tey were excellent and blew my mind away. But there was no story to support them. Nothing made sense, with the writers trying to make things appear more complicated to make you believe it was a smart movie. And to enjoy this movie, you have to believe you can invade people’s dreams to steal their secrets. I have a good imagination but this was a joke. Whatever happened to blackmail? If you haven’t watched it yet, don’t feel guilty about skipping it.

As a final note, I wanted to say I finally started watching the first season of the TV series Grimm and I’m hooked! I originally thought it was about the real Grimm brothers but the story actually takes place in present times, with a twist. Monroe is my new favorite TV character. He really has the best lines. This series actually reminds me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where not every bad guy was bad and my favorite character was Spike (the most sarcastic vampire ever!). If you’re a fan, I want to hear all about it (no spoilers, please). If you haven’t watched it, give it a try. NBC still has all the Season 1 episodes available online.