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Invictus: better on Nelson Mandela than rugby

3 October 2013 3:55 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Clint Eastwood's retelling of how Nelson Mandela embraced the Springboks lacks that sporting thrill and passion for the game – and misses a fine metaphor for the racial struggle

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Invictus (2009)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Entertainment grade: C–

History grade: B+

The South African national rugby union team has been known as the Springboks since the early 20th century. The 1995 World Cup was the first in which South Africa was readmitted to international competition after an apartheid-era boycott.


Invictus begins with the release from prison and election to the presidency of Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman), who appears in some meticulously recreated documentary-style footage. The film is right to suggest that rugby was an intensely political game in South Africa. "Rugby was 'the opium of the Boer', said Makhenkesi Arnold Stofile, an African National Congress activist who later served as sports minister. »

- Alex von Tunzelmann

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