“I have a very large family: 42 million.”
Clint Eastwood directs another high quality drama with Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon with Invictus. In this historical drama, Eastwood naturally combines success in the sport of rugby with national pride in South Africa beginning with Nelson Mandela’s historic release from prison. This event sets an engaging tone to the film as the events feel so authentic and meaningful without manipulating the audience.
Freeman portrays Mandela’s charisma and grace very well, especially the lack of vengeance towards the people who wrongfully imprisoned him. “Forgiveness liberates the soul,” he says. “That’s why it’s such a powerful weapon.”
In his new role as South African president, Mandela takes risks to bring unity, including forging a new rugby team to compete and inspire on a high level for the entire country.
Damon plays Francois Pienaar, the Springboks rugby team captain, who must prepare his team emotionally and physically for an uphill challenge. Damon portrays the emotional journey of learning about Mandela’s incredible trials and challenges before his ascension to president.
Rugby rules and South African history are not prerequisites for watching this high quality film, which culminates with a predictable, but effective climax in Johannesburg’s Ellis Park Stadium as the Springboks play the All Blacks from New Zealand.
The screenplay is adapted by South African Anthony Peckham from John Carlin’s book, “Playing the Enemy”. The title Invictus refers to the William Ernest Henley poem, a favorite of Mandela, which contains the famous ending “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” Highly recommended (***1/2 out of four stars) and rated PG-13 for brief strong language.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler