Morgan Freeman Month #2: Invictus, Driving Ms Daisy

Invictus

What do you do when you are elected the President of a country fractured along the lines of race? Nelson Mandela decided to use rugby as the tool to unite South Africa, as it unshackled itself from centuries of racism in mid 1990s. Invictus (2009), featuring Morgan Freeman & Matt Damon, directed by Clint Eastwood, brings this real life inspiring event to cinema.

Morgan Freeman, as Nelson Mandela, makes you peer deep into the mind of a leader looking beyond war and politics to inspire a nation. Matt Damon plays the role of the captain of the South African rugby team, who is inspired by Mandela (Morgan Freeman) to join the cause of uniting the “rainbow nation”. Invictus accurately portrays South Africa in mid 1990s and is peppered with actual Nelson Mandela footage. However, Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela is so genuine that the viewer, at times, does not realize when the original footage has been used.

Invictus is a highly motivational movie that, were it not based on a true incident, would have been difficult to believe as a plot. Morgan Freeman’s sequences in Robben Island, where Mandela spent 27 years in jail, are poignant and leave a mark on the viewer. Both Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon received Academy Award nominations for Invictus.

A must-watch if you love cinema that inspires, Invictus is the celebration of the human spirit’s ability to fight and emerge victorious in the face of adversity-in the most humane manner possible.

Driving Miss Daisy

Driving Miss Daisy (1989) is set in the backdrop of America between 1940s and 1970s when the nation was coming to terms with social and race equality. The movie covers a period of 25 years and looks at America from the view of a retired Jewish teacher (Jessica Tandy) and her black chauffeur (Morgan Freeman),as they go about their daily lives.

Directed by Bruce Beresford, Driving Miss Daisy also features Dan Aykroyd and Esther Rolle, apart from the lead roles of Jessica Tandy ( Mrs Daisy Werthan) and Morgan Freeman (Hoke Colburn). The movie explores people in context of their religion and race as the society sees them,and, at the same time, it lovingly caresses the relationship between two human beings, who happen to be the employer and her chauffeur. The movie is self assured in its languid pace as it explores the questioning and reasoning between the Jewish employer and her black chauffeur over a period of two decades. And in doing so, it brings to fore issues of antisemitism, racial discrimination and the emergence of Martin Luther King Jr.

Morgan Freeman received an Academy Award nomination for his role. He delights the viewer in his 25 years journey with Miss Daisy during which he helps her understand the societal changes blowing in,and in the process, becoming Miss Daisy’s ‘only friend’. Driving Miss Daisy received nine Academy Awards nominations and won four. The movie is an adaptation of a Broadway play and is a recommended watch if you enjoy stories that explore human relationship with the right mix of poignancy and comedy.

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