Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Wish-List: Playing the Enemy

One of my favorite ways to acquire new books to read is from the movies that I watch. If you take the time to look you might be surprised by how many movies were actually books first.

Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation

The list goes on and on and on. So you can imagine what a great tool the end credits in a movie are.

Well, I've been dying to see the movie Invictus which is based on (surprise, surprise) the book 'Playing the Enemy' by John Carlin.
Invictus [Blu-ray]
It is the story of how Nelson Mandela set out to unite his country behind Rugby, as well as the powerful influence the Springboks rugby team had on their fans and the country in general.

I love Nelson Mandela! If I were to make a list of influential persons I would be honored to meet, Mandela would be  in the top five (more on that list some other time). So you can imagine my enthusiasm at realizing the movie was based on a book.

There's nothing like immersion.

Besides, who can resist a book when the New York Times gives such supremely positive review?
A caveat is required: the premise that a single rugby game, even a championship game, could heal three centuries of racial division, dispelling accumulated terrors and hatreds in a magic Mandela moment, is romantic overstatement. South Africa is still a generation or two from racial reconciliation. But Carlin summons many witnesses, from ardent liberation firebrands to white racist bitter-enders, who testify that the 1995 championship match was a profoundly formative moment in the young country’s move away from the threat of civil war. By the time Carlin is finished, you’ll be inclined to grant him his poetic license.
There are scenes that will open your tear ducts, like the chapter in which the muscle-­bound Springboks — “Hollywood central casting’s overenthusiastic response to a request for 26 Roman gladiators” — set out to learn how to sing “Nkosi Sikelele iAfrika,” the thrilling Xhosa-­language liberation hymn that became one of South Africa’s two national anthems. Or when, on the morning of the climactic match, the rugby captain leads his men from their hotel for a warm-up jog, and four black children selling newspapers recognize them and call out to them by name — adoring fans from the other side of history. Or when the uniformly white crowd greets Mandela with a rapturous chorus: “Nel-son! Nel-son! Nel-son!”
This book is a must for my reading list. As are most of the books I listed above. What movie/book do you adore?

P.S. The team the Springboks beat in the 1995 Rugby World Cup was the All Blacks... New Zealand's team who traditionally begin their games with a haka. If you haven't seen it, it's awesome... here's a video.

Books: Playing the Enemy by John Carlin
           The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner
           Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

Movies (respectively): Invictus
                                  The Blind Side
                                  The Pursuit of Happyness
                                  How to Train Your Dragon
                                  The Green Zone
                                  Out of Africa
                                  The Girl With the Pearl Earring


Anonymous said...

That's an interesting way of picking your books. Yes, I'm surprised by just how many books get made into films.

Maurice Sendaks 'Where The Wild Things Are', 'Shutter Island', 'Fight Club', 'Men Who Stare At Goats', 'The Road'...

The list goes on. I often find myself struggling to keep up with reading the books before I watch the movies.

Cannwin said...

I don't necessarily read the book first. Sometimes I think it helps to watch the movie first. When I first became interested in Jane Austen it was because I had seen the Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice (Bride and Prejudice) and then the movie version of Persuasion, after that I was hooked and had to read the books. I don't think I would have made it through P&P if I hadn't known what was going on already.

Jennifer and my little sister has read 'The Road' and I was excited to see it made into a movie because I thought she would be (I've never read the book--she and I don't share the same genre love)... She said if there was a movie it would probably be too much for her to watch. So in that aspect reading the book beforehand would be worth it. :)

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Chrizette said...

I am from South Africa, so I know the story of Invictus firsthand but only saw the movie for the first time a few weeks ago. Loved it :)

Cannwin said...

I loved it too! Glad to see I'm not the only one :)


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