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Movie Review: Invictus (December, 2009)

Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenplay: Anthony Peckham
Release Date: December 11, approved 2009
Actors: Morgan Freeman, see Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge
Based on the book ‘Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation’ written by John Carlin

Invictus is sure to be a victory for Clint Eastwood. Based on the book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation by John Carlin, the movie focuses on Nelson Mandela’s use of the South African rugby team Springboks to unite the country after his election and after the apartheid.

Portrayed by the perpetually perfect Morgan Freeman, there is no better actor to play Nelson Mandela except for Morgan Freeman himself. With nuances in gesture, posture, and vocal inflections and commanding presence that matches Nelson Mandela, Freeman does an amazing job. Apparently he was handpicked by Mandela.

Matt Damon, who visibly bulked up for the role of Francois Pienaar, plays the captain of the Springboks team, who takes the position in not only in leading the team, but by Mandela’s lead to inspire his team. Through the poem “Invictus”, meaning “Invincible” in latin, Mandela has said that the poem, written by British poet William Ernest Henley, helped him through his days when he was locked up for his anti apartheid actions. The poem, of which he passes on to Pienaar, is truly a beautiful and inspiring poem.

The movie is based on the true story of real events and the choices that Mandela made to built a nation, despite what the South Africans believed he would do (they believed he was a terrorist), and those Afrikaners who could not understand the risks that Mandela made that seemed to exclude them. Mandela took a lot of risks, risks that he thought were important in order to overcome the fears and the hatred the people of South Africa were feeling to unite his country.

Invictus is appropriately named, as the movie is inspiring and moves you. The actions that Mandela took are commendable and full of wisdom, and many in his position, being the first black president of a country of extreme racism and conflict, would not have done the same. The fact that he kept the colors, pushed and inspired the Springboks against all odds to win the 1995 World Cup is a thing of wonder, temporarily uniting and creating a bond for the people of South Africa.

The movie is a success. It’s enjoyable, happy, inspiring; a movie that does not fit the usual Oscar bill (even more so than “Up in the Air”), and it’s a breathe of fresh air from the talented Clint Eastwood, who seems to deliver one critically acclaimed movie after another. The only difference is that “Invictus” is one of those rare films in Eastwood’s history of being a director that is a film that will make you feel good. From the serious and depressing Million Dollar Baby to sad and unfortunate Gran Torino, Invictus is a nice break from the doom and gloom. As excellent as those films are, sometimes it’s nice to get a break from the sadness of those sad stories, and a film that delivers a glimmer of hope in the political climate is certainly welcomed.

Invictus is a wonderful film though predictable (for anyone who knows the history of the story), but it is highly recommended. It deserves to be seen by everyone, and I’d be surprised if it disappointed by anyone. It is certainly a story worth telling and one definitely worth seeing.

Highly recommended. 4 Springboks / 5 Springboks

Watch the Trailer via Youtube

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