One of my favorite actor/directors on the face of the planet was on TV today promoting his latest movie. I can't get enough of Clint Eastwood's male-o-dramas full of taciturn guys and and conclusions painted in the color of devastation. Great stuff. Unfortunately for me, though, I can't bring myself to watch Invictus.
It is really challenging for me to willingly go for a Big Hollywood depiction of Africans. I could tell you all about it... but to cut a long story short, it involves a gazillion movies during undergrad for a senior project on depictions of Africans in hollywood from the 1930s to the Ohs. I learned a lot. I am still in recovery.
Not all the depictions are cretinous, but the majority are, all the way through to the present. Hotel Rwanda was execrable in terms of casting (yes, we can tell when the accent is utterly wrong), The Constant Gardner was a wee bit better, Last King of Scotland was palatable in spite of some interesting choices (yes, we can tell when the accent is utterly wrong). Invictus? I hope never to find out for sure. It contains the incredible, once-in-a-lifetime trifecta of the real Madiba in the background, the real Morgan Freeman in the foreground, and the real Clint Eastwood in the director's chair.
I cannot bear for it to be imperfect. And it is! I caught a clip of Morgan's Madiba sitting opposite a Hollywood-sized Matt Damon playing Francois Pienaar (...seriously?). They were having a conversation. Matt had the gaze and the accent right- he had an easier job than Morgan because frankly the Afrikaner cant is way too broad not to be adopted with a little effort. Morgan, however...ah. Madiba is so distinctive in his enunciation, in his cadence and timber. Its nearly impossible to get right, like Louis Armstrong's scatting. Just wasn't hitting it.
Nelson Mandela was an indescribable part of my teenage life, distantly and just the once in person. We're not all lucky enough to meet men who are making incredible, positive history. I cannot pretend to be in the least bit rational about what I think of Nelson Mandela. He's so terribly real, and fragile now, and precious. He is a unique man who, years ago, twinkled with adolescent glee when he saw a group of kids he could hang out with for five minutes before he gave a speech. Yup, he did, blond bodyguards in tow.
We've all got to accept our limitations, and this is one of mine. Some people are sacred. So sorry Morgan, Clint. I'll catch you guys next time, yah?