I have finally watched the film Invictus; I’m a rugby fan who spent a year living in South Africa, which is reason enough to avoid this film.
Aside from accents inspired by Lethal Weapon 2, it wasn’t too bad. The rugby set pieces were better than England’s in 2004’s 6 Nations and the sets were believably African.
The thing that I found unbelievable was how integrated the World Cup rugby hosts’ campaign was with its ruling government. But hey, I’m still reeling from England’s dismal performance last year.
I walked away from Invictus wondering if Ben Wheatley might be available for for the dramatisation of the 2015 campaign. His brand of satirical malaise being the only one that chimed authentically with how it felt to watch England play during what should have been our World Cup.
Having made peace with all the accents and ‘blick’ stereotypes on show, what I really enjoyed about Invictus was its appreciation of the political power of sport. From the ancient Olympic Games until yesterday’s friendly against Holland, sport has had a place in the political discourse. Its very attempt at independence is a position in itself: 82,000 people stood in stolid silence for a minute in solidarity with what happened in Belgium; a powerful expression of neutrality.
Meanwhile I’m contemplating the narrative of Invictus, in which the first ever black president enlists a white rugby player from an Afrikaans family to further the rainbow nation.
I can’t imagine David Cameron calling Chris Robshaw to say, “Help me bridge divides within our country, mate.” And I’m torn about whether it’s less likely that he says “mate” or “we should bridge divides”. This is a divided country that doesn’t have anything as obvious as race to help us notice where the fissures are.
I finished watching Invictus and decided that the 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign was everything England deserved.