Invictus inspires

Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon
Released: Dec. 11, 2009

Another great offering from film-heavyweight Clint Eastwood, Invictus brings to light a remarkable story from 1994-95 post-apartheid South Africa that is seldom told.

The film begins shortly after Nelson Mandella’s release from Robben Island prison, his triumph in bringing democracy to a country in apartheid and his victory in the presidential race.

Newly-elected president Mandella (Morgan Freeman) seeks out the help of South Africa’s rugby team the Springboks’ captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) to help win the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which the country is hosting. His purpose is to engage black South Africans in the sport – previously considered a white-centred activity – and unify the entire country through the team’s victory.

Beautifully drawn together with artful shots of South Africa’s most poverty stricken and naturally beautiful areas, accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack composed by Eastwood’s son Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens, Invictus offers a poignant vision of the country’s profound problems in that time period.

The film offers a little bit of everything – sports, politics and even humour – showing the incredible effect sport can have on bringing together a country trifled with differences.

Freeman offers a great performance as always, echoing Mandella’s hopeful and inspiring personality. Damon is outstanding, knowing how to act his supporting role while keeping it subdued and realistic.

Overall, Invictus is a touching, intelligent film; its real fallback is that it is a tad unrealistic. The film leaves the impression that through the world cup, millions of South Africans were able to come together and the country was left at peace – quite contrary to the truth.