Monday, December 14, 2009

Sports movies, manipulation, reconciliation

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 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 Accusations of manipulation duly withdrawn.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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just finally saw Invictus and loved, loved, loved it! Can't wait to read the book, but it's checked out of the library at the moment.