Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Invictus Movie Review


Grade: A

The story of sport bringing a group or country together at a moment in time is not a new one.  So on that level, I don't think this movie broke any new ground, but it did bring forth an important story that truly explains the greatness that is Nelson Mandela. 

This story begins with Mandela taking office as the new president of South Africa and against all advice from his staff, he wants to leverage the countries' struggling Rugby team in an effort to unify the country.  This is all the more profound as the existing Rugby team is a symbol of apartheid and everything it represents.  Mandela's great ability to forgive and forge new relationships is what makes this event so profound.

Morgan Freeman does a better Mandela then Mandela and Matt Damon only continues to expand his acting chops.  Damon plays team captain Francois Pienaar, who meets with and takes to heart Mandela's vison for the team to seriously compete for the 1995 World Cup.  Damon is so believable as a rugby player (he certainly beefed up for the role) that I forgot he's from Boston.

The rugby matches are certainly exciting and incredibly rough.  (They don't wear any helmits or pads, but they tackle just like in football.)  I don't know if it really matters if you understand rugby or not.  The film certainly achieves it's cinematic conclusion with or without that understanding. 

This film is directed by Clint Eastwood and I am a big fan of his directing.  Granted, most of his movies I can only watch once as the subject matter is usually too disturbing or intense to allow for a 2nd viewing, but I think he is one of the best directors around.  He is so concise and clear with his vision.  He is an economical director.  By that I mean...he doesn't waste shots or get sidetracked on other story lines.  Every shot is in there for the clear purpose of moving the story along and I think that is his true gift.  Considering the numerous other issues going on in Mandela's early administration and in South Africa in general, it would have been easy to be pulled off track, but not Eastwood.  I think he was meant to direct this film.

The film's title is from a poem that Mandela read and found inspiring while he was in prison.  I found the poem and I wanted to share it with you. It was written by William Ernest Henley.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


  1. This movie is on my list. Thanks for reminding me why I thought I would enjoy it.

  2. Lindalou, I don't know where you work now, but I think Hollywood could use someone like you. What a great review.

    Didn't see the movie, but saw the previews and was drawn in. Isn't Morgan Freeman and incredible actor?

    Thank you for taking the time to share Invictus with us.

  3. There is a cool campaign on Facebook where you can tag yourself if you were at the 1995 finale in South Africa. Check it out here:

  4. That poem gave me some goosebumps.
    I will have to check out this movie.