DRAMA; 2hr 14min
STARRING: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon
Captain, my captain: from left, Freeman and Damon
When Nelson Mandela (Freeman) takes office in 1994 as South Africa’s first black president, racial tension is at tinderbox pitch. Mandela’s presidency is all about reconciliation and forgiveness and when he attends a rugby game at which, despite the zealous captainship of Francois Pienaar (Damon), the South African Springboks play appallingly, he nonetheless sees in them a seed of integrative hope. Black South Africans view the Boks, all but one of whom are white, as a symbol of apartheid. But what if they were to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup and break “the cycle of fear” that grips the impoverished and crime-ridden country?
Freeman’s Mandela moves and speaks with the measured composure of a wise and centred man. Anchored in recent history and centred around the mighty spectacle of international sport, Invictus — the title of a poem by William Ernest Henley that inspired Mandela during his 27 years in prison — is a grand-scale story with director Clint Eastwood’s intimate slant. It is about strength of conviction and self-belief, and its slow build is as involving and moving as only a well-told heroic tale can be.