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Invictus

15 Dec

Francois Pienaar (played by Matt Damon) is a rugby player – but not just any old rugby player – he’s the captain of the national rugby team of South Africa – the Springboks. In 1993, his team faces a challenging time ahead. South Africa is to be the host nation of the 1995 Rugby World Cup in only eighteen months’ time and the Springboks currently languish at the bottom of the world’s elite league. At the same time, Nelson Mandela (by Morgan Freeman) has just been released from prison after 27 years as a political prisoner who challenged and fought his entire life against apartheid. Mandela has quickly ascended to become the democratically elected President of the nation and he is focussed on radical change for South Africa. This is a significant challenge for such a divided country He loves rugby and endears himself to many through his support of the national game. One day Mandela meets Pienaar – through his wisdom and courage developed over years of hardship and incarceration, he inspires Francois to work hard to lead the team back to world class rugby standards once again, to really put South Africa on the global stage – both in sports and the broader political landscape. The 1995 World Cup arrives and the entire country holds its breath in the hope that the Springboks can do it for South Africa …

This is a good sports movie – if you’re expecting a political drama, you won’t get it here – but you will get an excellent introduction to this highly complex nation and the issues surrounding their political landscape. As Nelson Mandela, Morgan Freeman takes on an almighty challenge, but he really does it justice. His performance is excellent. To have the courage and confidence to emulate such a great man in world significance is marvellous and to be applauded. As Francois Pienaar, Matt Damon is good here too, thankfully his character shows a lot more depth than the grit and determination required to become an elite footballer, which is appreciated. Overall, the story is lightweight on the political issues, but you get the idea. The drama is in the sport, which is done quite well. There are interesting sequences of rugby, but – being a Kiwi and an All Blacks fan from birth – it doesn’t really seem authentic to me. However, the majority of the audience should find it interesting. The interactions between the other staff members who are getting to grips with the new ways of the Mandela Administration are interesting to watch and several performances are worthwhile here – but again, the outcome is more worthy of a television drama than a movie. It’s okay, but it wasn’t until later I realised that this was directed by Clint Eastwood. I have seen several other movies that demonstrate better work from him in my opinion (such as Mystic River“, “The Changelingand “Million Dollar Baby”). For their performances, in 2010 Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon earned Academy Award (Oscar) nominations for their leading and support roles. They also received Golden Globe nominations for this work and Clint Eastwood was nominated for Best Director.  Oh, and … in case you are wondering … Invictus is Latin – it means unconquered, unconquerable and undefeated – it might refer to the state of overcoming and taking control of a place or its people.

Made in 2009. Directed by Clint Eastwood.

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Posted by on December 15, 2013 in Movies

 

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