Invictus (It’s not really all about rugby)

This week my fiance and I decided to watch Invictus. The main reason for our selection was that it was just about to start on HBO [or one of those many HBOs], and we wanted to catch a movie from the beginning.

I'm not crazy about the marketing for this film. But by luck I caught it on cable.

When Invictus came out in 2009, I really had little interest in seeing it — ever.  The commercials made me think it was about rugby, and that Morgan Freeman’s Nelson Mandela was a supporting role to Matt Damon’s starring one, as captain Francois Pienaar.

Boy, was I wrong!

Even the summary on IMDB is a tad misleading:

Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Invictus is really the story of how Nelson Mandela transformed South Africa and brought her people together after apartheid. Matt Damon has the supporting role here as the captain of the national rugby team.  Morgan Freeman shines as Mr. Mandela, who inspires not only those who supported him, but also those who were unhappy about his new position. And with his accepting, kind, genuine manner, Freeman’s Mandela inspired me as well.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. – Nelson Mandela

Eastwood directing Freeman and Damon.

I have to say that, until this film, I really knew little more than the basics about Nelson Mandela. I knew he was a political prisoner for decades, and I know that he was elected to lead the nation after apartheid was abolished. But of his grace and wisdom, I was ignorant. I am now interested to learn more about Mr. Mandela.

Also a surprise: Clint Eastwood directed the film.

If you haven’t yet seen Invictus, I recommend you check it out on HBO or Netflix.

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