Home > 2009 Movie Reviews > Invictus Review

Invictus Review


Invictus is a moving story of racial unity. Great performances and all around good movie.

My rating 4.5 Stars

What do you know about Clint Eastwood? If you’re an old timer you might remember him—or not—in movies like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; Hang ‘Em High; or Dirty Harry. He was a bad ass, a man’s man, someone not to be messed with, but there is something more to him and those who saw him as the bad ass were really disappointed and resentful when he starred in Bridges of Madison County with Meryl Streep. In Bridges we got to see a different side of Clint, a softer side, a romantic side and his fans felt betrayed by him for it. Some even called him a sissy and even a traitor, but I don’t agree. People don’t realize that he is an actor, an entertainer, a movie maker and he is really good at it. Some of my favorite films in the past few years have been attributed to Mr. Eastwood and he has received major awards and recognition for that work. I think he’s one of our time’s most influential filmmakers and I am happy that he’s around. His movies will be enjoyed for ages to come and even though he’s part of an earlier generation, I think he has the talent to speak to a broader audience than just people of his age. That is something that not too many filmmakers can claim.

His latest film Invictus is no exception. In this movie, Eastwood brings to the screen an important event in human history during which he united a divided country, South Africa. The story is told through the life of Nelson Mandela and how he managed to bring two races of people who hated and distrusted each other back together in the most improbable way—through the game of rugby. Either Mandela was pure genius or he was an incredibly lucky SOB.

The movie doesn’t cover the history of Nelson Mandela, although it does mention his imprisonment. At one point they even visit the real jail and a scene was shot in his actual cell. I thought that Eastwood did a fine job at showing us how lonely it must’ve been for Mandela to be in such a small cell. However, he didn’t dwell on this, instead of turning this movie into a sob story, he used it to showcase what one man and his determination can achieve.

It’s a bit difficult to pin point what this movie is really about, is it about Mandela, is it about the game of Rugby, is it about the people of South Africa? I think it’s more than just that, I think this movie is about how fragile humans can be and also how stupid and ignorant we can be when we don’t understand something. However, it also shows how with the right leadership, with the right attitude, one man can change things if and only if that man is willing to do the work and he truly believes in his cause.

Nelson Mandela was an extraordinary man. He had been arrested and thrown in jail practically for just being black. At first he was angry, anyone would be, but then he got to know his enemy, by doing that he understood the reason why they were the way they were. When he came out of prison, his enemy became his inspiration, not for revenge, but to show them that blacks and whites were all that different. Mandela forgave those who had imprisoned him and in the end he became their president with the promise that he would reform their country.

In the movie, the South Africa is going through a rebirth. This is something that most people find difficult to accept. Perhaps we get comfortable with the way things are, even if we don’t like it. There is a saying that holds true, “The evil you know, is better than the evil you don’t.” However, sometimes the need for change is great enough for people to take action and Mandela was brave enough to take on such a task.

As a result, South Africa got a new flag and  a new national anthem all in the attempt to try to reform the state and to leave in the past their old ideals of hatred and segregation and to look forward to a future of unity between two people. It wasn’t easy; Mandela had to sometimes fight against two sides to get things done. Funny, this reminds me so much of our own current president.

As part of this new rebirth, there were talks about getting rid of the South African rugby team and replacing them with a new team. They felt that the team represented their ugly history of oppression and segregation. However, Mandela was against it. He mentioned that while studying his enemy in prison, he learned that the one thing his enemy loved the most was their rugby team. If they got rid of their team, their name, their colors the country would never unite. Against his own people, he tried to rebuild the name of the rugby team, by taking the team to the people so that they could see that this was a new team and that they represented a new South Africa. With his leadership and the help of the captain of the rugby team played by Matt Damon they succeeded in changing the reputation of the team and united a country that was once segregated.

Invictus is a powerful film that speaks volumes. It is one that I would hope people would see and open their eyes and realize that we are in fact South Africa. No one wants to say it because it isn’t politically correct, but there is still a lot of hatred toward blacks in this country. However, let’s be realistic, there is also a lot of hatred toward whites coming from blacks. Racism is racism, if you don’t like a group of people, no matter what color they are, that is racism, it isn’t “reverse racism”, it isn’t “good old fashion dislike” it is just plain wrong and it’s destroying our country. We all need to wake up and realize that we are all the same. No matter what your background is, your skin color, your creed, your religion, or your beliefs, we are all Americans in this country. We are divided because we don’t take the time to understand each other and as one of our greatest presidents ever said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” If South Africa could unite, so can we.

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