Invictus Movie Review Samples


“Invictus” is a film that shows an inspirational story of how Nelson Mandela united his fellow countrymen by using rugby team as a catalyst, subsequent to the end of apartheid. During this time Mandela was serving his term as president and as he campaigned to host the Rugby World Cup in 1995, he used this opportunity to unite divided nation. After the apartheid, the white minority fears vengeance while the black majority seeks revenge. The movie portrays the racial trapping that prevailed in South Africa through the almost all-white rugby team, Mandela’s security and the divided nation to narrate the story. In his effort to heal the nation, Nelson Mandela, appoints the captain of the team, Francois Pienaar to influence the mediocre teammates to avoid and mitigate the problem prevailing.

The film’s title is derived for the Invictus, a short poem by William Earnest Henley, which Mandela used as inspiration in his prison cell when he was incarcerated for 27 years. However, the script of the movie is derived from the “Playing the Enemy,” a book written by John Carlin. The movie main themes are portrayed by the efforts of newly elected president in South Africa and the Rugby team captain, Pienaar. The goals of the two characters are connected to derive the themes of the movie, although the two shared little time together. As a result, as many people would wonder, this film is not a sport, a biopic or drama, but an uplifting story of incapacitating the odds.

The movie begins with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela being released from prison, and subsequently elected as a president in South Africa. Though many have celebrated this radical change in the country, the country faces a challenge of racial prejudice after the apartheid. However, Mandela formulates a way to bring the nation together through his love of the game. He supports the National Rugby team, Springboks in Rugby world Cup as a channel to unite the South African, especially whites and blacks. Previously, the Springboks were considered as the team dominated by the white South African, a notion that was heavily condemned by Mandela at the time he was in prison. Mandela assembled his knowledge and passion for diluting this assumption and make the Springboks team a team for all South African. Beyond Mandela’s efforts of uniting the country, his racially diverse security men struggle to protect him during the rugby matches when he subjects himself into potentially unprotected conditions.

The implication of the Mandela efforts was that, by the national team participate in the world cup finals, none of the prevailing issues would be a problem again. Mandela could be seen as a man managing to appease the prevailing tension in the country by coaxing South African towards an easy truce. Mandela and Pienaar struggle to overcome the perception held by the blacks that the rugby team is the stronghold of the old white rule. The blacks went to the extent of celebrating and cheered every opponent of their country’s national team. Mandela worked against this perception to celebrate the lone black player in the team to win a victory for the whole true. As a result, the president and captain’s effort constructs the main theme in the movie, fighting to overcome the odds.

The movie main theme depicts how nelson Mandela endured through tribulations that were subjected to him to beat the odds. In this case, Mandela endured 27 years of imprisonment and overwhelming criticism to beat the odds and became the South Africa’s hero. In the beginning critics against Mandela indicated him as undeceived and unruly reader but later turn to be a great president. President Mandela narrates to Pienaar on how he used the poem to overcome tribulation in the prison. He also tells Pienaar that they must win the World Cup (48’). On the other hand, Pienaar, despite being the only black in the team, leads his teammates to reach the world cup final. For instance, a scene shows how the South Africa exceeds all potentials and struggle as a team to defeat the best team and player in the world, i.e. All Blacks and Jonah Lomu (116’). In addition, Pienaar was able to lead his team to victory against the Australian team in the first match.

Another portrayed theme in the movie is the Racism. The movie shows the end of the white man ruling in South Africa, which is accompanied by the hatred between the blacks and the whites. There are various examples of the racism prevailing in the movie. For instance, as the movie starts, there is a segregation of the white and black school boys. While the black schoolboys play soccer in rags, the white schoolboys play rugby in their fancy uniforms. In addition, there is a seen where Mandela escort drives by and the white rugby coach furiously says, “this is the day our country went to the dogs” (1’).

The characterization of the film is dominated by Nelson Mandela and Pienaar. The two character are converges their ideas to overcome the racialism prevailing in their country. Morgan Freeman in the role of Mandela captures significant traits of the late South Africa’s hero such as confidence, charisma, and genuine enthusiasm for both sport and reconciliation. On the other hand, Matt Damon is as convincing as South African rugby captain hero, Francois Pienaar.

Other important characters of the movie are the different citizen who reveals various themes such as racism and change of equity. For instance, the theme of change of equality is demonstrated when the South African started realizing that the other racial group was not bad at all. They started working together without fighting or tension. For instance, the two policemen following the match on the car radio initially pushed off the black boy who tried to listen. However, as the match proceeds, they accept that they are all equal through the success of their team (116’).

The cinematography of the Invictus provides a stunning sense of beautiful landscape in South Africa. The country is abundant of the natural beauty but constrained by the poor background of the black South Africans. The scene shows constant conflict between the images of inner city slum in opposition to the wealthy part of the nation. However, it took a great work of the cameraman to weave theses scene together and bring the real sense of life as place and time are perfectly captured.

However, there are some scenes in a movie that needed some editing. For instance, the rugby scene during the final match in 1995 world cup moves in relatively slow pace. In addition, the background music is almost jarring, coming from unprofessionally mawkish. Consequently, this has been criticized as inability to bring rugby into life.

In conclusion, the movie depicts a well-developed story that is important to the history of South Africa. It is a story of two black men who take the opportunity to use the national rugby team to overcome the racial tension in the country. He used the team captain, Pienaar, to achieve the idealistic goal of winning the world cup despite the challenges from the rugby world giants such as New Zealand, an all-blacks rugby team. In this view, Mandela wanted the team captain to be much like him.


Eastwood, C. (Director). (2009). Invictus [Motion picture]. USA: Warner Bro Pictures.
Guiloineau, J. (2002). Nelson Mandela: The Early Life of Rolihlahla Mandiba. North Atlantic: North Atlantic Books.

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