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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

I Think He Wants Us to Win the World Cup

Author: piratecannon from United States
29 December 2012

Over the past few weeks, the world has seen the release of two very well made sports movies. First we received The Blind Side, and now Invictus, the latest from Clint Eastwood. The 79 year old actor—whose best known for his roles as grizzled lawmen—has certainly proved his ability as a filmmaker during his twilight years, and Invictus is no exception. Thankfully, he doesn't seem to be slowing down one iota.

Invictus tells the story of Nelson Mandela (Freeman), the former President of South Africa and the man credited with unifying a country riddled with racism and turmoil in the wake of apartheid. Given Mandela's astonishing achievements, one would think the movie would be laden with dramatic flashbacks that clearly highlight the struggle he suffered as a prisoner for 27 years. Eastwood, it seems, has decided to take a different approach to telling this story.

The catalyst for this particular tale is rugby; a sport that many Americans know nothing about (admittedly, I knew little about the game going into the theater, but I did feel as if I had a better grasp of the sport as a whole when I walked out). This could easily be viewed in a negative way, as the bulk of the third act is focused solely on the rugby World Cup match that took place in 1995. Eastwood clearly revels in the brutality of the sport, as it nicely symbolizes the struggle the country was going through at that time. When teams lock arms and spar over field position, it's clear just how painful the process is, and this adds even more depth to the same issues that—unlikely as it is— District 9 grappled with only a few months earlier.

Matt Damon plays Francois Pienaar, captain of the South African rugby team. This is a role that seems well-suited to Damon, whose solemn determination is exactly what Mandela needed as a face for the symbolic triumph over prejudice that he saw embodied in the competition. The acting honors, however, clearly go to Freeman. If there's anyone who was destined to play Mandela, it's him—Freeman's mastery of the man's mannerisms, accent, and general presence is astounding. There aren't really any scenes that call for the emotional outbursts typically needed to garner an Oscar nod, but I have a feeling the sheer power of the movie as a whole will land Freeman a much deserved nomination.

That's the thing about Invictus–at its core, it seems to be nothing more than an inspirational sports film, but there are many other issues rippling just beneath the surface. One could nitpick about the decision to film this "documentary style," with only limited (extremely limited) glimpses into Mandela's past, and I'd have to agree that it leaves a little bit of a hole in an otherwise absorbing movie. The message it sends to audiences, though, is what makes the final product so effective. And that, of course, is that athletics play a very important role in any society: they act as the ultimate unifying medium. Themes of bias and discrimination generate a lot tension, but when the final match is underway, everyone puts their differences aside (and inadvertently comes to the realization that we're all one and the same).

As far as motivational sports films go, you could do a lot worse, and the patient directorial eye of Eastwood will cause you to linger on every frame. I wouldn't say the movie is unforgettable, but it is a welcome pick-me-up that takes an optimistic stance on the nature of mankind.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Excellent Movie Even If Predictable

Author: SerpentMage from Switzerland
23 October 2012

So I read some comments about how this movie is too Hollywood, too predictable, and why would a leader even be concerned with this sporting event. All I can answer is that you have lived too much in Canada or the USA. In Canada and the USA sports are important, but not that important. In places like Europe, South America, Africa, or parts of Asia certain sports are VERY IMPORTANT!

Consider the recent football (soccer for you North Americans) match between England and Germany. Cameron and Merkel sat in front of the TV watching the game and not doing any business whatsoever other than relaxing with a few "brewskies." Even though Europe was falling apart. Sports moves people in these countries like no other thing can.

This movie is very good and I liked it. I found it very emotional. This movie though is similar to the German movie, "Das Wunder von Bern" (The Miracle of Bern). It talks about the hardship and how the people came together to find a little happiness from the desperation of reality. Though the difference in the two movies is perspective.

So how do you know if you will like this movie? Easy, how much are you attached to things like World Cup Football, or World Cup Rugby. If you are not attached emotionally to these types of things you will find this movie lackluster. If you are very attached and can get into the emotional spirit of the sporting event, then you will like this movie. It really is that simple, that black and white.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An inspirational masterpiece by Clint Eastwood

Author: Andy Tam
20 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

During Nelson Mandela's first year in charge as president of South Africa, South Africa was the host nation of The Rugby World Cup and he seized the chance to use rugby as a reconciliation tool for the injustice throughout the years between the whites and the blacks. I think this is a great theme as a political related movie as lots of other movies about political policies do not have the sparkles as it does in Invictus which flawlessly blended politics with sports.

The beginning of the film was phenomenally done. The very first scene of the film was truly memorable, Nelson Mandela's vehicle went past a path which divide the whites and the blacks. It was a mixed feeling among the South Africans on Mandela took up the role as the president, the whites believed that things would change completely and things never went the things they were; while the blacks was liberated with the hope Mandela would bring, the triumph he would bring. Clint Eastwood vividly captured the skeptic of the society and that point was only the very beginning with unforeseen amount of struggles laying ahead. The dawn was only the herald of the day with so many unexpected may occur.

The film had also done remarkably well on depicting the significance of the springbok as an emblem to the white South Africans. It was a revelation of the fidelity of whites' devotion to rugby. On the other hand, it was a symbol of the tragic occurrence at the Apartheid for the blacks which they wished to abandon and put it behind them. Hence, there was a clash between the two racial groups shared different codes of values. I think the opening was sensational with the way it construed the historical background, the political divide between two groups of people and most importantly it portrayed the wrath of the people towards Apartheid. Another tremendous scene of the film took place when a voluntary helper handed out clothes for the warmth of the children lived in poverty. Every child was ecstatic after been given out the clothes except one who received a South African jersey with the springbok badge on it, I could reminiscent the pain in them through that shot. It unveiled the hatred of the suffered towards the unequal treatment during the darkest hours in Apartheid.

The movie came up with a happy ending which South Africa won the rugby World Cup as the host nation of the event. All the people over the nation were triumphant over the victory of this international historic event. But the most important thing of all is that it unify the two groups of people in conflict, the whites and the blacks who didn't get along with each other, a reconciliation was met between them. It was a great scene which captures the cheerfulness shared among everyone regardless of the age, gender, social class and race. I could felt it deep down in my heart that it was a great moment, it was a moment of change.

I think highly of the amount of studies Eastwood had done. He has kept the film very real and accurate with the content such as how his fellow Africans calling him comrade and Madiba which established an intimate relationship between them. He has characterized Mandela as a forgiving figure who has already forgiven the people who locked him up into a intolerable cell room from the first moment he was released. The two key casts – Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon played exceptionally well, they both once again proved themselves as two of the best actors in their generation. They played well with their imitation of South African accent which makes the native people feel more nostalgic and indigenous Freeman to them. So overall, I am entreated by this movie with the new approach with such political based materials. It is truly inspirational for the people who have already seen this movie. I wholeheartedly recommend this film to everyone as I do believe that it can change the way we feel the World we are living in and fully understood the historical shift behind the struggles South Africans had faced.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding film; one of the very best

Author: chris ryan from United Kingdom
1 July 2012

Wow. What a fantastic film this is. I was a bit unsure about the film before watching it, and despite owning the DVD for some weeks I had put off watching it. I thought the film would just have plodded along, and because I am not a fan of rugby, I did not think it would hold my interest for long.

But how wrong I was. Invictus is possibly one of the best films I have ever seen. I really think it has everything; brilliant acting by Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, great plot, excellent film directing and fantastic inspirational music.

I even had butterflies in my stomach whilst watching the film, and halfway through I thought to myself: This film is great.

I think Morgan Freeman gave the performance of his life, and it shows that he is acting powerhouse. But most of all, my hat comes off to Clint Eastwood. Over the last ten years his films have been phenomenal, and this could be his best one yet.

I could not recommend Invictus more to film lovers. It is a modern-day masterpiece, and unless you are only a fan of high octane action films, you will like this - a lot.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Nelson Mandela And Rugby

Author: Desertman84 from United States
31 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Morgan Freeman portrays anti-apartheid activist and former South African president Nelson Mandela in this Clint Eastwood-helmed political drama adapted from author John Carlin's book The Human Factor: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed the World. Set just after the fall of apartheid and during Mandela's first term in office, The Human Factor explores how the political prisoner-turned-president used the 1995 Rugby World Cup -- which was hosted by South Africa -- as a means of bringing blacks and whites together after decades of violence and mistrust.This biographical sports drama is directed by Clint Eastwood and it co-stars Matt Damon.

After 27 years in jail, Nelson Mandela is released in 1990 and subsequently elected President of South Africa. His immediate challenge is "balancing black aspirations with white fears", as racial tensions from the apartheid era have not completely disappeared. While Mandela attempts to tackle the country's largest problems—crime and unemployment, among many others—he attends a game of the Springboks, the country's rugby union team. Mandela recognizes that the blacks in the stadium cheer against their home squad, as the Springboks represent prejudice and apartheid in their minds. Mandela remarks that he did the same while imprisoned on Robben Island. Knowing that South Africa is set to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup in one year's time, Mandela convinces a meeting of the newly-black-dominated South African Sports Committee to support the Springboks. He then meets with the captain of the Springboks rugby team, François Pienaar, and implies that a Springboks victory in the World Cup will unite and inspire the nation. Mandela also shares with Pienaar a poem, "Invictus", that had inspired him during his time in prison.Pienaar and his teammates train. Many South Africans, both white and black, doubt that rugby will unite a nation torn apart by some 50 years of racial tensions. For many non-whites, especially the radicals, the Springboks symbolized white supremacy. However, both Mandela and Pienaar stand firmly behind their theory that the game can successfully unite the country.Things begin to change, however, as the players interact with the locals.

This Clint Eastwood film provides a great theme and it is sentimental with inter-racial relations themes particularly in South Africa with the use of rugby - the country's primary sports.It provides inspiration as well together with a tribute to the country's great man in Nelson Mandela.Although it gathers Eastwood,top Hollywood actors and top South African actors,one thing about the movie is its lack of vitality and energy that would hold the viewer in watching it.Nevertheless,both Matt Damon as the captain of the Springboks rugby team, François Pienaar and Morgan Freeman as former South African president Nelson Mandela inhabit their real-life characters with admirable conviction.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Experiencing History

Author: seth_85 from Lublin, Poland
17 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of the most interesting and the most inspiring history films of the decade is Clint Eastwood's Invictus. The film is based on the book written by John Carlin "Playing the Enemy". It is the story of the South African president Nelson Mandela (starring Morgan Freeman) who after his release from 27 years of imprisonment on the Robben Island chooses extremely creative way to bring about reconciliation. His plan involved employing the captain of African rugby team Francois Pienaar, starring Matt Damon, to win with the "Springboks" the World Cup 95' and by the means of mutual victory culturally unify the African nation. In the opening scene Eastwood gives a viewer a short insight into what exactly the film is going to be about. It starts with an establishing shot showing a green sport field where white young boys, dressed in striped jerseys, practice rugby. When we hear a whistle the boys restart the practice and the camera zooms in. Then there is a tracking shot used to follow the ball until it lands near the fence. Suddenly, using a crane shot the camera jumps over a sharp fence and traversing road in order to show a completely different image on the opposing sport field. On this pitch we can see black boys practicing football. The whole pitch, surrounded by a dilapidated fence, is covered with brownish dust. The boys are dressed in dirty clothes chasing chaotically something that resembles ball. Most of them have bare feet and are noticeably smaller and skinnier than the white boys. Then Eastwood swaps the pitches several times, using a crosscuts, as if to enable a viewer to see the differences between them. Moreover, using medium and long shots interchangeably he allows a spectator to observe the scenery in greater detail. After several seconds we can hear hoots from the road and both the black and the white boys stop their practice to see what is happening. Now the camera points at the crossing road where a line of cars approaches the scene. The black boys start cheering and screaming continuously "Mandela!" "Mandela!". When the camera pans 180 degrees we can see white boys curiously watching the passing cars. Suddenly, Eastwood uses full shot to point at one of the boys and his coach. When the boy asks his instructor "Who is it, sir?" the instructor replies "It is a terrorist Mandela. They let him out. Remember this day, boys. It is the day when our country went to the dogs." After the dialog the director uses a jump cut to show a short stock footage montage (an aspect ratio changes to 1.33:1) which spans the tumultuous four years between Nelson Mandela's release from prison and his inauguration as President of South Africa. Invictus is not only the story about Nelson Mandela, Francois Pienaar or a rugby Cup, but also the story about problems that all South Africans encountered in the 90s. The film presents the country which is divided into the whites and the blacks and two prominent persons who struggled to unify their country by the means of rugby Cup that took place in South Africa in 1995. Invictus is a brilliant history movie, taking its viewers to a journey through the South Africa of 1990s, faithfully portraying this particular period of time. Through history films like Invictus people can watch some great personalities not only from the last decade like Nelson Mandela but also persons from a totally different epoch. It is not easy to do such kind of movies as this genre very often requires specific props, language spoken by actors, costumes, or even specially designed whole cities to express the authenticity of a particular period. I believe that this genre provides us not only with a lot of entertainment but is also an excellent history lesson.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

a great inspiring movie.

Author: khan2705 from Pakistan
14 September 2011

Actor Morgan Freeman portrays anti-apartheid activist and former South African president Nelson Mandela in this Clint Eastwood-helmed political drama adapted from author John Carlin's book The Human Factor: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed the World. Set just after the fall of apartheid and during Mandela's first term in office, The Human Factor explores how the political prisoner-turned-president used the 1995 Rugby World Cup -- which was hosted by South Africa -- as a means of bringing blacks and whites together after decades of violence and mistrust. Matt Damon co-stars in the Warner Bros. production as rugby player Francois Pienaar.

Starring. Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, Patrick Mofokeng, Matt Stern , Julian Lewis Jones , Adjoa Andoh , Marguerite Wheatley , Leleti Khumalo.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, one of the best directors ever.

Nominated for 2 Oscars while not winning any, Best Actor in a Lead role Morgan Freeman and Actor in a Supporting role Matt Damon.

now who else think this movie deserved Best picture nomination rather than the excessively overrated movie ever in this world, THE BLINDSIDE. i have no idea why but Academy is snubbing Clint Eastwood a lot these years, his movie Hereafter was an average attempt so i understand it. Gran Torino was just pure brilliant, at least he deserved a best Director nod for it. and the same goes for Changeling. also he is a good actor. but lets forget that and talk about this movie.

so these both sports movies The Blindside and Invictus were released in 2009 both competing for Oscars and The Blindside took the lead which was awful. this movie may m=not be a very memorable attempt but trust me, the effect i had the first time i saw this movie was out of this world, i was so emotionally drawn into this movie that i was crying all the way in the end, i was jumping and screaming and shouting like i was there in the ground. this movie was very inspiring, uplifting and might be the only Feel Good movie from Clint Eastwood that i have seen. the mix of Sports and Politics in such way was a sheer pleasure to watch. it has positive energy all around. and above all, the character of Mr. Nelson Mandela.

brilliant performances by both the actors. they brought these real life characters with so much conviction on the screen that its hard some time to call them Matt or Morgan but there character names. Morgan Freeman took the lead here, he not only physically is a look alike but the whole performance was such outstanding. great performances by them

Screenplay was good, however not great. there were some minute problems with it. movie is predictable but it is how it was suppose to be ain't it? plot may stumble a bit in places. it feels like a Documentary at a lot of times. screenplay may feel dragged but it is a good crowd pleasing movie. good art direction and cinematography.

it was a really simple movie with a really simple message that Sports can unify people, it is so true and people love it when they see this movie and comes out with an entire different feel. The story is based on the John Carlin book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation about the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted in that country following the dismantling of apartheid. really liked the way on field game have been shown. those moments are thrilling.

a really good movie by a great director.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Good for the Heart

Author: stock-1 from Oosterhout, Netherlands
5 May 2011

This movie is better as any medicine to cure heart problems. The best part is that it's not some fairy tale, but really happened. Nelson Mandela is the only 21th Century Statesman who can stand in the footsteps of the founding fathers of America. Clint Eastwood is the producer and director to watch, as he knows where to put his attention and efforts into. Morgan Freeman really is Nelson Mandela inside this movie excelling way above the Oscar for best leading actor. That he was nominated and didn't win, only testifies that there still are certain matters to be sorted out in Hollywood. Matt Damon does a great job in the role of the South African rugby captain Francis Pienaar. The strange mix of suspense and excitement among the team of bodyguards when they have to escort Nelson Mandela around the country and during his 04:00 am training walk, underlines the motive of Mandela's decision to guide the Springbok Rugby team, the former symbol of Apartheid, to the world-champion title.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Playing for Something More

Author: Tyler Sexton from United States
1 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Invictus will inspire those who have never even heard of rugby. The story is about so much more than a sport, but without the sport the changes in South Africa may not have occurred. Nelson Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, is a man of great character and moral strength but struggles to unify a nation faced with years of prejudices. That unifying factor becomes the sport of rugby where Mandela meets Matt Damon's character, Francois Pienaar. Francois, the Captain of the South African National Rugby Team, believes in his country and Mandela despite teammates and a family that has their share of doubts (Barber, Freeman, Moore, & Eastwood, 2009).

Mandela and Pienaar directly faced the fates of their country and rugby team that were very dim. Through persistence and courage, both of them change the team and country the have been entrusted to lead. Along the way, they become friends and motivated by one another. Mandela and Pienaar both become increasingly interested in the lives of each other. Nelson follows every moment of the rugby team and Pienaar takes his team to the prison that Mandela lived for many years (Barber, Freeman, Moore, & Eastwood, 2009).

Two men, who were united by a sport and the love of their country, changed everything around them. The games played during the Rugby Championship were just games to the other teams but the were something more to South Africa. The team was playing for the fate of their country and that unity could not be ignored. To some sports may seem silly but they have the power to do great things. Sports are a universal language the breaks many barriers around the world. It gives countries the way to unite and poor children hope for a better day (Barber, Freeman, Moore & Eastwood, 2009).

South Africa had rugby to unify its country and Michael Oher had American football to bring him a better day. The stories of Invictus and the Blind Side, show how sports are often much more than children or men playing with a ball. They give us an understanding of how much lives can be changed when we have something to unify us together.

Overall, I truly enjoyed Invictus despite knowing very little about rugby. I felt that rugby was going to be a huge hurdle for me before watching the movie but I walked away inspired by this movie. The acting of Freeman and Damon is excellent. The rugby scenes were incredibly realistic. They filmed the rugby scenes with angles that gave the viewers a firsthand experience. The noise of the crowds also brought an intriguing feel about the sport (Barber, Freeman, Moore, & Eastwood, 2009). This movie is definitely one I will recommend to others.

References Barber, G. (Producer), Freeman, M. (Producer/Actor), Moore, T. (Producer), & Eastwood, C. (Director). (2009). Invictus. U.S.A.: Warner Brothers.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

inspiring and engaging

Author: Rajnish Patidar from India
6 August 2010

i started watching this movie in early morning and i was very skeptic about watching it but knowing that it has name attached like clint eastwood, morgan freeman and matt demon i put my butts down on a chair and started watching it on my laptop and right from the start i loved every single frame of dis film. morgan freeman and matt demon were truly amazing in their characters with their flawless south African accent. although i never enjoyed rugby but dis film made me like the game and final match was just like a thriller. what is best about the movie is dat its all true and clint eastwood totally justified the novel. one of my favis of eastwood- freeman collaborations.

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