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A day that will live in history in South Africa occured on February 11, 1990 . It was the day that South African Nelson Mandela was finally released after serving 27 years in prison. Three years later, Mandela became a candidate, on behalf of the African National Congress, to run for South Africa’s first black president. 1994 marked the very first time that black South Africans were able to cast their vote in a presidential election. The voices have spoken and Nelson Mandela won the presidential race successfully.
On the other side of the fence, South African Rugby team captain Francois Pienaar and his team, the Springboks, are getting ready for a new season of Rugby. After attending his very first rugby match, Mandela realized that his country is divided when it comes to the sport. The white South Africans root for the home team while the black South Africans rooted the English Rugby team. He was notified by his staff that if the Springboks does not start winning their games, it could be the very end of the rugby in South Africa. Mandela hoped that if he could inspire the losing rugby team for greatness, the eyes of the world will be upon the new direction of his country and his people.
Invictus is one of the most brilliantly crafted movies in our time. It’s a rare thing to see any national leader use a sport to bring a nation together. The moviegoer will admire the strength and courage Mandela possessed to unite the white and black citizens of South Africa. This film points out the raw racial relations that carry over from many years of apartheid to the new direction in which Mandela is attempting to achieve dring his leadership. There are also moments that draw out pure emotion that the moviegoer will take a moment and pause. One scene in particular is when Pienaar and the Springboks went to Robbin Island, the prison where Mandela spent majority of his sentence. Francois and his wife was shown the cell where Mandela slept. For the one inspiring moment, you will wonder how can any person easily forgive the people who placed him in prison for the wrong reasons.
Morgan Freeman was the perfect choice to portray the South African leader. He truly captures Mandela’s cadence of words and mannerisms to the point where you are actually meeting the legend himself. Little did we know that Mandela recommended that Freeman should play him in a movie nineteen years ago when they first met? Talk about a dream come true. Invictus in a way parallels our current times when last year, we elected Barack Obama as our newest U.S. President. Both leaders want to bring their countries together to achieve greatness. Matt Damon’s role of Springbok Rugby captain of Francois Pienaar was very convincing.
For the lack of dramatic effect, this film makes up for its recreating a timeless event in world sports event. You have to hand it to Clint Eastwood for giving us a taste of the life of prominent world leader with a mix of crash course of rugby blended with a lesson negotiating peace within a nation. In all, I highly recommend you see this film if only to see the role that was tailor-made for Morgan Freeman. Invictus remind us that we are the “captains of our souls”
FINAL GRADE: B+
Reviewed by Dean Rogers