Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
The film tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa's rugby team to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa's rugby team as they make their historic run to the 1995 Rugby World Cup Championship match. Written by
Morgan Freeman and his producing partner Lori McCreary had been developing a movie about Nelson Mandela (a.k.a. Madiba) for years. They were originally trying to adapt Mandela's autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom" but since the story spanned many decades it would be impossible to completely translate into a feature film. See more »
The Samoan team is referred to as "Western Samoa", the name they were commonly referred to in the 1990s and early. It is now known as "Samoa", or sometimes as "Manu Samoa". However Manu Samoa tends to be used by the Samoans themselves. See more »
High School Boy:
[seeing passing motorcade]
Who is it, sir?
High School Coach:
It's the terrorist Mandela, they let him out. Remember this day boys, this is the day our country went to the dogs.
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Warner Bros.' logo from 1994 is used for both the opening and ending of the movie in keeping with the time period of the film. See more »
Morgan Freeman shines in Clint Eastwood's solid drama
Set in the early to mid 90's, Clint Eastwood's "Invictus" covers the first year of Nelson Mandela's presidency and how he pushed the nation's rugby team, led by captain Francois Pienaar, to achieve World Cup glory. However, Mandela's backing of the rugby team splits many hairs, as the "Sprinboks" have come to be a symbol of apartheid for millions of South Africans, making Mandela risk the very base that pushed him into office. He must also deal with personal security, his exhaustive schedule, and the strains on his personal life.
As much as I respect Morgan Freeman, I was concerned that his presence would be distracting, that I would be seeing him instead of Nelson Mandela. I shouldn't have worried. Freeman completely immerses himself into the role and gives one of the best performances of the year. Not only are his accent and tone of voice quite good, but he brings a true 3-dimensionality to the role. Compare, for example, him having tea with Francois, to talking with his family, and to making a political speech. Freeman nailed every facet of Mandela's life.
Damon also excels as Pienaar, the solid enough rugby player who must do more than just lead by example for his team. The screenplay, adapted by Anthony Peckham, doesn't offer many narrative surprises, but it does do a good job examining not only the strife South Africa was in when Mandela was elected, but also the value of the team to the entire nation. Eastwood wisely plays the material straight. Though the material may seem familiar, the performances by Damon and especially Freeman are what elevate this tale into a solid and even uplifting drama.
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