I love sports movies. Especially those based-on-a-true-story, underdog-wins-the-day, bring-your-tissues kind of story. Chariots of Fire, Remember the Titans...like that.
And then there are two--TWO--the opened this seasons. My sinuses may never recover.
First The Blind Side, based on the terrific book by Michael Lewis. And though I liked the book better, I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would. Sandra Bullock was fun to watch. And what a treat at the end to see the actual footage of Michael Oher being picked in the first round of the NFL draft.
But I preferred Invictus, the story about Nelson Mandela using the hated Afrikaaner rugby team, to bring the country together.
I admit there was one part towards the end that I thought was horribly manipulative. It made me roll my eyes. Then I came home and watched an interview with the real rugby team captain from a couple of years ago--and he told the story exactly as it appeared in the movie. Accusations of manipulation duly withdrawn.
The thing I particularly liked about about the movie is that Mandela, instead of pooh-poohing the human tendency to root for "our" team, recognized sports as a powerful unifying force. And was willing to use--and convert--a tool that had previously represented oppression as a symbol of liberation and reconciliation. Very, very smart. And a wonderful lesson about not despising that which seems despicable.
But I guess there is manipulation, there. It was fascinating to watch Mandela manipulate the emotions of a nation through this unexpected and--I don't know if humble is the right word, but at any rate sideways source. Sneaking reconciliation in the back door. Again, I'm impressed by how Mandela went about it; if you simply announce to people, "Reconcile!", how successful would that be?
I keep thinking of the verse, "The stone the builders rejected as worthless has become the chief cornerstone." How inappropriate is that!
I guess my point being, we shouldn't count out sports as a mere sidelight to that which is important. But I must ponder more.
In the meantime, I whole-heartedly recommend Invictus.