DIR: Clint Eastwood • WRI: Anthony Peckham • PRO: Clint Easywood, Robert Lorenz, Lori McCreary, Mace Neufeld • DOP: Tom Stern • ED: Joel Cox, Gary Roach • DES: James J. Murakami • CAST: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge
Clint Eastwood began his directorial career back in 1971 with Play Misty For Me. To date he has directed nearly thirty films and has won four Oscar®. Invictus (Latin for ‘unconquered’) takes its title from a short poem by William Ernest Henley, concerning hope and ambition. It is based on John Carlin’s book called Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and The Game That Changed a Nation.
Nelson Mandela was released from a Robben Island prison in 1990, after being inside for twenty-seven years. In 1994, Mandela was elected as President of South Africa. Mandela is played by Morgan Freeman, who Mandela himself has said is the only actor who can play him. Invictus is the story of Mandela’s period of office before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Mandela wants to tackle problems such as crime and unemployment. He believes that the rugby team needs to make their country proud and succeed in the world cup. The South African rugby team known as the Springboks, is captained by Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon, who gives a decent South African accent).
There are good supporting performances from Mandela’s staff, to name a few: chief of staff Brenda (Adjoa Andoh, making her Hollywood debut) – she is the closest individual to Mandela throughout the film; and security guards Jason (Tony Kgoroge) and Etienne (Julian Lewis Jones), who have different opinions on how the president should be addressed and guarded.
Eastwood superbly crafts the rugby sequences; they are very detailed and enthralling. In probably the most important scene, Pienaar has a conversation with Mandela, which is the key to motivating Pienaar and his team to triumph. In another scene, Pienaar visits the cell in Robben Island where Mandela was imprisoned for eighteen of his twenty-seven years of imprisonment. It’s a great scene and not overdone, it’s poignant and nuanced.
There has been criticism of historical inaccuracies in the film. After all, it’s a Hollywood film, which tells a true story on its own terms and does it well. Invictus will be a shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards®, especially as the new system nominates ten films, instead of five. It’s a good film, which audiences will enjoy.
(See biog here)