Thursday, December 10, 2009


I nearly got whiplash on the A train on the way back from the Far Rockaways when I glimpsed what looked like a Springbok rugby shirt on Matt Damon, in a station deep in the bowels of Brooklyn. Talk about incongruity.

Then I saw it again, at my station, above, and in SoHo, below.

Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, captain of the triumphant Bokke; Morgan Freeman as Madiba.

by my man Clint. Eastwood.

Slat my dood me 'n nat vis.

In the trailer Mr Freeman sounds nothing like Madiba, which is a pity, and odd, as his accent and voice are so unmistakable. Possibly that small clip was misleading. I look forward to deconstructing Mr Damon's South African accent, which, in small bites, sounded startlingly good. Leonardo DiCaprio came close in Blood Diamond, but usually they are a mishmash of every possible region and cultural background in the country with some extra cliches thrown in for good measure.

As someone who struggles to do a middle of the road American accent myself (unless it's Southern or Longghue Island - and even then I am sure I miss all nuance), I am sympathetic. But dudes, you are being paid le big bucks to get it right. If Charlize can lose it you can assume it.

There. Nothing deep to say. Just that. Rugby players on posters. The world is turning. South Africa's film fuel potential is only going to increase as history fades and the past bubbles to the surface. Smelling like roses or like carrion, as the case may be.

Having a Past is complicated.


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.

William Ernest Henley, 1849 - 1903

Poem on wall of Mandela's prison cell.

12/11/09: NYTimes Review here.


  1. I saw the trailer recently and it looks like it will be a good movie, correct accents notwithstanding.

  2. I suspect Morgan Freeman will sound like he does in all his movies, like himself. That's how we like him, re-assuring.

    Not knowing the story, is he a good guy or not?
    Cause he tends to play the calm, wise, serious old guy.

    As a Long Islander myself, "longghue"? How's that sound? Lawng He you? LI accents are really NYC accents with a lawn and a driveway;)

  3. Goodness, so that's the poem from which so many well-known quotations have come! Quite lovely.

    For truly cringeworthy massacres of national/regional/local accents, Dick Van Dyke's attempted Cockney in 'Mary Poppins' was unforgettable....

  4. living, as i do, with a rugger player (former, before the 2 knee surgeries) the movie is eagerly awaited at my house. the accents won't be criticized, but the plays will be!

  5. Love Frank's LI definition! And I do hope this film comes to this town.And, yes, the on-field action will be scrutinised!

  6. My God, that's the only poem I know by heart and I (rather oddly) was introduced to it when Timothy McVeigh quoted it for his last words. I had no idea it was on Mandela's prison cell wall, and feel much less odd about loving it now.

    I heard today that Morgan Freeman never does accents. I find that very odd for an actor, especially in this circumstance.

  7. Lisa, yes, I will go. Tangerines and all. In SA, 'naartjies' are taken to rugby matches (which used to be only in winter, hence citrus season). Bad play would result in naartjie peels being pelted at the offending players.

    Frank - No way Mandela would be a bad guy...or maybe there's time for that to evolve, too...But the man should ACT, as much as I like him.

    Loowar-ngh-uh? :-)Heheheh. Not sure.

    Rachel, yikes, see m's comment below.

    Flwrjane - yes, I'm curious about how much - if any - actual footage might be shown.

    Dinahmow - I'm a bit of a rugby cretin myself, hating the idea of scrums but loving nice running and passing action -)

    M. "Doesn't do accents". That means can't do accents. Bi-zarre. Some people just don't have an ear for it, I suppose, but very odd for an actor. I had no idea about the Timothy McVeigh connection.

  8. Saw it last night. It was good, although one of my SA friends accompanying me was unconvinced. I think it did well with the huge amount of content it needed to cover. Morgan Freeman's accent... hit and miss. But he did get Madiba's pacing of speech, and some of his facial expressions. It was great to see Cape Town/Table Mountain so huge on screen :) Interested to see what you think when you go.


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