Sunday, 31 October 2010

How do we inspire ourselves&others to greatness

I saw the film Invictus ( meaning undefeated or unconquered), this weekend and was left truly inspired by the events portrayed and by the film's soul. It tells the story of how Nelson Mandela harnesses the power of rugby to unite South Africa. With the country due to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup in a year's time, the once imprisoned, now newly elected President, Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman), hits on the idea of using the national rugby team as a way to ease racial tension and unite the country. The captain of the struggling South African national team, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), is called to meet the President and soon realises that victory at the World Cup would transcend rugby, and could lead to something monumental for his country.

Quoting directly from the Wikepedia site:

 "After 27 years in Robben Island prison, Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) is released in 1990 and works immediately to bring about the end of apartheid and the initiation of full democratic elections. While Mandela attempts to tackle the country's largest problems—crime and unemployment, among many others—he attends a game of the Springboks, the country's rugby union team. Mandela recognizes that the blacks in the stadium cheer against their home squad, as the Springboks (their history, players, and even their colours) represent prejudice and apartheid in their minds, and remarks that he used to do the same thing on Robben Island. Knowing that South Africa is set to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup in one year's time, Mandela convinces a meeting of the newly-black-dominated South African Sports Committee not to change the Springboks' name and colours. He then arranges a meeting with the captain of the Springboks rugby team, François Pienaar (Matt Damon). Though Mandela does not verbalize his true meaning during their meeting, Pienaar understands the message below the surface: if the Springboks can gain the support of non-white South Africans and succeed in the upcoming Rugby World Cup, the country will be unified and inspired to exceed its expectations. Mandela also shares with Pienaar that a poem, "Invictus", had been inspiring to him during his time in prison, helping him to "stand when all he wanted to do was lie down".

"Pienaar and his teammates train, but the players (all but one are white) voice disapproval that they are to be envoys to the poor and public, fearing exhaustion from overwork. Mandela, too, hears disapproval from friends and family. Many more, both white and black citizens and politicians, began to express doubts on using sport to unite a nation torn apart by some 50 years of racial tensions. For many non-whites, especially the radicals, the Springboks symbolised white supremacy and they did not want to support their national team."

"Things begin to change, however, as the players interact with the locals. During the opening games, support for the Springboks begins to grow among the non-white population. By the second game (which is in fact the quarter-final against Western Samoa) Williams is fit once again. Citizens of all races turn out in numbers to show their support for the Springboks. At the suggestion of several security guards, Mandela sports a Springbok jersey with Pienaar's number 6 on it to show his support, and his name is chanted repeatedly by the home crowd during his entrance, a contrast to a previous rugby match scene, in which Mandela is booed by some in the crowd. As momentum builds, even the security team members become at ease with each other and the black members who were not interested in the sport, eventually began to enthusiastically support their national team alongside their white colleagues.

 Prior to the game, the Springbok team is taken on a trip to Robben Island, where Mandela spent nearly 30 years in prison. There, Pienaar is shown Mandela's cell and has a vision of Mandela among the inmates. Later that night Pienaar mentions his amazement that Mandela "could spend thirty years in a tiny cell, and come out ready to forgive the people who put [him] there."

William Ernest Henley

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.

This film is truly inspiring and just reminds me that the seemingly impossible is possible when you have true faith and unwavering conviction.

"I am the master of my fate, i am the captain of my soul"

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