Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Movie Review of Invictus

My brother and I recently saw the movie Invictus directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. Rather than reviewing the movie from a cinematic point of view, this post will review the movie from a historical point of view. The movie takes place in the 20th century's most racially divided country, South Africa, where apartheid (literally means "apartness;" a system of strict racial segregation in South Africa from 1948 to early 1990s) brought political, social, and economic hardship to minority citizens, especially blacks, by the government under white control. For over thirty years, Nelson Mandela became the last best hope for the minorities to bring down apartheid but unfortunately he became a political prisoner
in 1962. He was freed by President De Klerk in February of 1990, was elected president, and unified the country.

The movie starts with the release of Mandela from prison and how he used the universal language of sport to unite a racially and economically divided nation coming off from apartheid. The film used one of many Mandela's ideas to unite the country, racially, by lobbying to bring the 1995 Rugby World Cup Tournament to South Africa. Also, he rallied the whole nation, both blacks and whites, to support South Africa's underdog rugby team, the Springboks, to win the Cup. The team was supported by the whites and not blacks during the years of apartheid since it was made up of mostly white players. The climax of the movie came when Mandela handed the championship trophy to team captain Francois Pienaar after defeating New Zealand in the World Cup Final to the unifying cheers of the country's citizens.

The movie fits nicely with other movies (Ghandi, Malcolm X, etc.) that addresses historical problems of racism through out society and how one leader can make a difference in uniting all races. In order to better understand the historical events that surrounds this movie, there are some good books to recommend like Nelson Mandela: The Fight Against Apartheid by Steven Otfinoski, Mandela: The Authorized Biography by Anthony Sampson, and finally Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela by Mandela himself. Finally, I recommend this movie for anyone to learn about one of history's most influential leaders who made a fundamental difference in a country that was the most racially divided nation in modern history. If you have seen this movie, please feel free to provide your comments about this important film at or in the comments box. Thanks for reading.

The word "Invictus" in the title of the movie and Latin for "invincible" is actually a poem written by the English Poet William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) that inspired Mandela for his cause in ending apartheid while imprisoned. Here is the full text.

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.

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