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Invictus (2009)

A 2009 film based on Nelson Mandela's life during the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa directed by Clint Eastwood

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It takes courage and vision to break a cycle of fear and resentment.

  • Dec 11, 2009
  • by
It has been an awfully long time since I have been wowed by a movie.  But that was precisely my reaction to the new Clint Eastwood film "Invictus" which debuted in theaters across America today. 
"Invictus" recalls the 1995 Rugby World Cup tourney which was held in South AfricaThe World Cup was the first major sporting event to take place in South Africa following the end of apartheid.  But this is by no means a movie about rugby.  Rather it is the compelling story about the courage and vision of two men....two very different men

Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) was the recently elected President of South Africa.  Here was a man who had spent most of his adult life courageously opposing the entrenched system of legal racial seperation in his beloved homeland known as "aparteheid".  Mandela had certainly paid a stiff price for his divergent political views.  In the late 1950's and early 1960's he was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of the African National Congress's armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe.   Mandela was loathed by the entrenched British establishment that was searching for ways to get rid of him once and for all.  Mandela was tried and conviced of sabotage and other crimes against the state by the prevailing National Party back in 1963.  Despite persistent calls for his release from political and religious leaders and from governments around the world Mandela would spend the next 27 years of his life in a prison cell.   While incarcerated Mandela read extensively and had plenty of time to ponder his philosophy of life.  He envisioned  that one day South Africa would become a color-blind "Rainbow Nation".   Mandela was finally released from prison in 1990 and in 1994 he was elected President of South Africa.  Shortly after his inauguration  President Mandela cast about for innovative ways to bring his disjointed nation together again.  He determined that the 1995 Rugby World Cup tournament to be held in his homeland to be the perfect vehicle to achieve his lifelong dream of a truly united South Africa.

Meanwhile, Francois Pineaar (Matt Damon) was the captain of the South African Rugby team known as Springbok.  The team was not very good and there was but one black man on the club.  Springbok's prospects in the upcoming tourney were dismal.  Yet with the odds clearly stacked against him Mandela decided to  gamble most of his political capital and personal prestige and made it a national priority to win the World Cup.  He met with Pineaar several months before the competition.  Although from very different backgrounds the two men quickly discovered that they were kindred spirits.  Each was bound and determined to make this "impossible dream" become a reality.

Although Matt Damon's star shines brightly in "Invictus" Morgan Freeman clearly steals this show.  I found it to be be one of those rare performances where I could simply not take my eyes off him.  He was that compelling!  I would compare Freeman's performance in this film to Jimmy Stewart's in "Rear Window" or perhaps more precisely to George C. Scott in "Patton" "Invictus" is an extremely well-crafted and uplifting film that should earn numerous Oscar nominations. Clint Eastwood has outdone himself this time.     I would highly recommend this film to everyone!! 
It takes courage and vision to break a cycle of fear and resentment. It takes courage and vision to break a cycle of fear and resentment. It takes courage and vision to break a cycle of fear and resentment. It takes courage and vision to break a cycle of fear and resentment.

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July 05, 2010
wow, all the reviews on Lunch are really good for this movie...nice job!
December 14, 2009
Sounds good to me! Was at the prison museum when in S. Africa. Robben Island is pretty interesting. If you've a chance to visit, it's a must!
December 11, 2009
I was looking forward to watching this and I'm glad to see that it won't be a waste of time or money. Thanks for this review, Drifter!
December 11, 2009
Great Review! I had some friends go and see this movie last night at the midnight showing. They said it was amazing! I need to go see it now. It's great to see a country like South Africa start to get positive worldwide recognition with movies like this and the soon to be FIFA World Cup in South 2010 in South Africa.
More Invictus reviews
review by . July 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A Sport Can Unify A Nation....
I’ve always had a fondness for movies directed by Clint Eastwood. I always thought that Eastwood directed with a steady hand, revolves around simplicity and that he allows the atmosphere to dictate the film’s mood. Little surprise that I would be checking out his latest movie called “Invictus” when it was released on dvd. The film is based on the book by John Carlin “Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation” and has earned Morgan Freeman …
review by . December 12, 2009
This Is More Than A Sports Movie, It's A History Lesson.
   If you think that this movie was going to be a dud, then think again. When ever Clint Eastwood (Director) and Morgan Freeman (plays Nelson Mandela) get together then you are assured of a winner at the box office. I think that this is going to be 2009’s movie of the year and it will probably get a lot of awards along with Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman. This movie will take you back to the year 1995 and Anthony Peckham who does the screen play and John Carlin eventually wrote …
review by . July 15, 2010
   I just saw this movie this past weekend. I love all sports movies, but this one was different- there was a LOT of history and social messages in Invictus. I think it speaks wonders for sports for social change. It really shows the discontent among the blacks and whites, and how Mandela is determined not to reinforce that discontent. One of the scenes that resonated the most with me was when Mandela showed up to the sports meeting (I can't remember the name of the organization!) …
review by . September 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
         Invictus is more about the heart of President Nelson Mandela rather than the Bokks rugby team. This film paints a beautiful picture of forgiveness, courage and the strength that comes from choosing to walk the high road with dignity. Two of the people I viewed the movie with thought there was a lack of action. I tend to like slower character pieces so that may be why I liked the movie more than they did. There are moments where the film clips along and is about …
review by . January 04, 2010
Invictus left me speechless
One thing I've noticed about a lot of Clint Eastwood's movies is that they feel as much like literature as they do cinema. I'm not sure if this is because of the source material he works from, his very understated directing style or his actors who give very convincing performances. Whatever the answer, Invictus has a literary texture that will probably have most viewers leaving the theater feeling informed, inspired and most of all, satisfied.      The story begins with Mandela's …
review by . June 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I've always been surprised that there haven't been more Hollywood movies about Nelson Mandela. Invictus was worth the wait however. Rather than focusing on the obvious storylines of apartheid South Africa and the transition, Invictus looks at Mandela's relationship with the white Afrikaner rugby team. Overall, the film works amazingly well both as a political biography and a sports flick. Morgan Freeman really comes across as Mandela. Matt Damon does a good job as the rugby team leader (although …
Quick Tip by . June 09, 2010
So inspiring!! Words cannot describe, A MUST SEE!!
review by . June 07, 2010
Lots of sports movies are produced every year, and almost all are either romance or drama movies; the latter being about some individual or team proving or redeeming themselves to their fans or opponents. The list of "proving" movies, i.e. movies about teams or athletes that prove themselves includes Rudy, A League of Their Own, and The Mighty Ducks among others. The list of "redeeming" movies would include He Got Game, Hoosiers, and The Natural. Rarely, Hollywood produces a truly original sports …
Quick Tip by . June 03, 2010
The filming of this movie was weird. Looked very bad quality. The plot sort of got lost...
review by . May 19, 2010
Clint Eastwood seems absent from this little movie until the credits at the end. What could have been a powerful little drama ends up being a volley between a hero president of South Africa and a Rugby Field. Granted we know a lot about the extraordinary Nelson Mandela and his surviving imprisonment to be released and form a government that through his inspiration brought an end to Apartheid. This little story about how he focused on encouraging a Rugby team's determination and success in winning …
About the reviewer
Paul Tognetti ()
Ranked #2
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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About this movie


Invictus is a 2009 biographical drama film directed by Clint Eastwood starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. The story is based on the John Carlin book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation about the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted in that country following the dismantling of apartheid. Freeman and Damon play, respectively, South African President Nelson Mandela and François Pienaar, the captain of the South African rugby union team the Springboks. Invictus was released in the United States on December 11, 2009. The title Invictus may be translated from the Latin as undefeated or unconquered, and is the title of a poem by English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903).
Invictus (also known as The Human Factor) is a 2009 feature film based on Nelson Mandela's life during the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film stars Morgan Freeman as the then South African President Mandela, and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, the South African team captain.[2] The story is based on the John Carlin book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation. The film is due for release on December 11, 2009, and is already considered a "front-runner" for several Academy Awards.

A look at Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) from the fall of apartheid. The story is about Mandela's release from prison, his election ...
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Director: Clint Eastwood
Genre: Drama
DVD Release Date: May 18, 2010
Runtime: 134 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
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