Film: Invictus

Cast includes: Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby), Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity)
Director: Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby)

Genre: Historically based drama

In brief: “Remember this day, boys. This is the day that the country went to the dogs.” February 11, 1990… the day of Nelson Mandela’s release, after 27 years in a South African prison. With the 1994 election of Mandela as president, South Africa was finally poised to leave the apartheid legacy behind. But that certainly wasn’t clear in 1994… blacks had grievances, whites had fears. That’s where Invictus begins... with both a country and a national sport in tatters. Years of sanctions on the country and its rugby team, the Springboks, had taken a serious toll.

Mandela takes office promising to “stop the cycle of fear.” But even his own ANC members fail to understand his meaning. When Mandela invites whites to be a part of his government, formerly oppressed blacks are skeptical. When Mandela enlists Springbok captain, Francois Pienaar, to strive for greatness… not just for white South Africans, who had always loved rugby… but for all South Africans… ANC allies think he is wasting political capital. While languishing in prison for almost three decades, Mandela had rooted for any team but the Springboks. Now Mandela says, “If I can’t change when circumstances demand it, how can I expect others to?” Although it seems that South Africa had much bigger problems than rugby, Mandela understands that this beloved sport can be the key to uniting his people.

In the early 1990s, Morgan Freeman had his first opportunity to meet Nelson Mandela. At that time, Mandela told him that if a movie were ever made about his life, he hoped Freeman would play him. It was Freeman who asked for Clint Eastwood as director. Famous for films about revenge, Eastwood now shows that reconciliation can be even more powerful than revenge. This is a nuanced, finely crafted, multi-layered film with sports, history, inspiration and many Mandela quotes. While the outcome is certainly known now that we’re looking back, it’s always worth remembering that history very nearly took a much different course. Invictus puts us in the moment but leaves an impression long after the movie’s over.

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

Popped kernels for a wonderful script. The acting is wonderful and the story is totally awesome.

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Invictus (Latin for Invincible)
By English poet, William Ernest Henley (1849 – 1903)
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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