Invictus is a biographic film tracing the true-life involvement of South African President Nelson Mandela in the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film is based on the book Playing The Enemy: Nelson Mandela And The Game That Made a Nation by John Carlin.
Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, captain of the Springboks, the country’s national rugby team, play lead roles in the film.
Nelson Mandela belongs to the Madiba clan and has been imprisoned for 27 years for fighting against apartheid in South Africa. Following his release from prison, he is elected as President of South Africa in 1994. His main task is to unite the apartheid torn country. For this, he chooses to make use of the simple and uncomplicated language of sports. He elicits the help of Springboks captain, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) as South Africa gets ready to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
The Springboks are an all-white team and are jeered at by the South African black population. Distrust and hatred, the legacy of apartheid, is still prevalent at the time in South Africa. The subtle message to the Springboks team captain is to gain the support of the black community and lead the team to victory at the Rugby World Cup – a big step forward on the rocky road to unification of the country.
Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar plays a stellar role in beefing up the team, considered underdogs, and leads them to victory against New Zealand in the 1995 Rugby World Cup finals. Mandela and Francois greet each other on the field and celebrate the victory of the game to the rambunctious cheering of the crowd – both black and white.
Invictus has been nominated for three Golden Globe awards in the categories of Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Director for Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon and Clint Eastwood respectively. The film was shot entirely in South Africa and is convincingly natural – a truly satisfying experience of politics, sports and a nation finding its feet. For cinema buffs who like to buy movies, Invictus will be a valuable addition to their collection.