Friday, September 10, 2010

The Underdog

I was recently on a long-haul trans-Atlantic flight, and saw Clint Eastwood's movie "Invictus" starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, two of my favorite actors. It chronicles the story of how an underdog South African rugby team stunned the world, and unified a nation, in 1995 by winning the Rugby World Cup. Despite the poor audio and constant interruption throughout the flight, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

The title of the movie is derived from a poem on self-mastery by William Henley, which inspired Nelson Mandela while he was in prison. In the movie, Mandela (played by Morgan Freeman) shares it with Francois Pienaar, the captain of the rugby team (played by Matt Damon).

It is a beautiful poem.
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.

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