How about a film marathon? Watching movies based on the flaming human spirit that pursues excellence against all odds? In a coincidence that bordered on the mystical, I was recently afforded an opportunity to watch a few of such soulful ones: On Pele, on Jesse Owens, on Mandela, on Alan Turing.
‘The Imitation Game’ makes you weep- with overwhelming empathy for a tortured genius. Alan Turing the brilliant mathematician who was driven to suicide at 41, has been beautifully portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch. The enigmatic Turing pieces together the world’s first thinking machine amidst mind numbing pressures, battles deep human prejudices and yearns for life assuring friendships. All the while, he is quietly saving millions of lives.The film makes us aware of how deeply flawed we are, as a human race. We are the most cruel of all living beings. I felt touched by an Angel after watching this beauty of a movie.
‘Invictus’, is named after William Ernest Henley’s poem that was Nelson Mandela’s favourite. It depicts the elegant Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, emerging from prison in 1994 after 27 years. He is faced with a divisive nation where mutual hatred and suspicions reign. The Rugby World Cup of 1995 is used as an opportunity by the great leader to inspire a unifying sense of nationhood in the South Africans. One sees leadership in action, greatness in front of the eyes, making us dazzled with the purity of the undying human spirit and the enthralling power of sports.( I loved the Maori war dance, the Haka, before the finals.)
‘ Out of the darkness that covers me/Black as the pit from pole to pole/ I thank whatever Gods may be/ For my unconquerable soul…’
‘Race’- the movie on Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics under Hitler’s very eye, is both informative and inspiring.We see that the White House did not acknowledge Owens’ victory and that he was forced to enter his own victory party at the Waldorf Astoria through the entrance meant for servants. Jesse Owens the quietly confident star, his encounter with German competitor Luz Long that carries a beautiful story in its own strength, the manipulations of power- all make for a mesmerising watching. I was stunned by the actor who enacted Joseph Goebbels with finesse- Barnaby Metschurat- for the sensitively portrayed body language, the look in his eyes, the palpable touch of evil power. The nexus between politics, business and sports was again high lighted through the story of Avery Brundage. Someone should study that character further for a management course in Power and Politics.
Pele-the birth of a legend, the biographical film, with music by A.R.Rehman, should not be missed by football fans. I wished that my father was watching it with me- when I watched Pele’s father teaching him the Ginga style (inspired by the Capoeira martial arts )of playing football , using a mango fruit. The mind numbing poverty and the amazingly talented Brazilian children playing football with cloth balls were eye openers in a literal sense too. Here too, was the human spirit at work, aiming for excellence amidst all odds. The beautiful game is showcased in a wonderful way.
‘ It matters not how strait the gate
How charged with punishment the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.’