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INVICTUS – Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens

December 11, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A true life drama directed by Clint Eastwood, Invictus tells the story of the country of South Africa, and its emergence from of social, political and sporting exile imposed on it during the Apartheid years, which was lifted following the release from jail of Nelson Mandela in 1990. Specifically, it tells the parallel stories of Mandela’s first years as president of the newly-democratic South Africa, and the South African rugby union team’s victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which was seen as turning point in the modern history of the nation. The film stars Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon as South African team captain François Pienaar, and is scored by Eastwood’s son Kyle Eastwood and his regular musical partner Michael Stevens.

Like most of the scores for Eastwood movies, the music is low-key and understated, with emphasis on piano and soft strings; the opening “Invictus Theme” has a soft, melodious refrain for jazz trumpets, the melody of which bears a coincidental but unfortunate resemblance to the popular opera stanza ‘O Sole Mio’. Most cues feature subtle drums, tribal rhythms and chanting vocal effects to give a splash local color to the orchestral palette, such as in “Siyalinda”, the softly appealing “Thanda”, the slightly more unnerving “Enquena”, and the uplifting “Ukunqoba”. Probably the most conventionally attractive piece is the warm and uplifting “Madiba’s Theme” (Madiba is the Zulu name for Mandela himself), which provides Mandela with a dignified, hopeful musical accompaniment which is entirely appropriate.

In addition to Eastwood and Stevens’ score there are also several tracks performed by South African boy band Overtone in collaboration with vocalist Yollandi Nortjie. “9,000 Days” is based on the main Invictus theme and is wonderful; a soothing, emotional piece with a jazzy, bluesy feel and obvious literary allusions, the latter coming from its use of the original William Earnest Henley poem from which the film draws its title. The song “Colorblind” is also very good in a middle-of-the-road kind of the way, and could well receive Oscar attention. Some of the other songs highlight the group’s a cappella talent and lovely vocal harmonies, notably their rendition of the South African national anthem “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”. It’s all quite pleasant really, an easy-listening album with subtle African inflections which is never going to set the world on fire, but is respectful of its subject matter and appropriate in its tone. By far the best score of young Eastwood’s career to date.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • 9,000 Days (performed by Overtone with Yollandi Nortjie) (3:14)
  • Invictus Theme (4:09)
  • Colorblind (performed by Overtone) (3:24)
  • Siyalinda [The Waiting] (2:28)
  • World in Union ‘95 (performed by Overtone with Yollandi Nortjie) (3:50)
  • Madiba’s Theme (1:17)
  • Hamba Nathi (performed by Overtone with Yollandi Nortjie) (1:35)
  • Thanda [Love] (2:08)
  • Shosholoza (performed by Overtone with Yollandi Nortjie) (3:30)
  • Inkathi [Time] (2:34)
  • Olé Olé Olé – We Are the Champions (performed by Overtone with Yollandi Nortjie) (2:06)
  • Enqena [Anxious] (0:59)
  • The South African National Anthem (performed by Overtone) (1:57)
  • Ukunqoba [To Conquer] (2:32)
  • Victory (performed by the Soweto String Quartet) (4:01)
  • Xolela [Forgiveness] (1:54)
  • The Crossing [Osiyeza] (performed by Overtone with Yollandi Nortjie) (2:18)
  • 9,000 Days [Acoustic Version] (performed by Emile Welman) (3:13)

Running Time: 47 minutes 09 seconds

New Line Records NLR 39169 (2009)

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