The rise of Nelson Mandela from long-time political prisoner to president of South Africa shocked many around the world and dismayed many whites in South Africa. The prejudices against blacks, ingrained as they were, did not instantly fall away. But rather than reverse the lines of oppression, like Mugabe has done, oppressing whites in Zimbabwe, Mandela worked for reconciliation among all South African people. He caught a vision for a means of uniting the people: rally around the national rugby team.
Invictus tells the story of Mandela's stubborn, quiet leadership, and his championing the Springboks, the national rugby team, in spite of their less-than-stellar performance. Mandela inspired the Springboks, and they together inspired a nation. Morgan Freeman portrays Mandela perfectly, overshadowing Matt Damon's adequate performance as the Francois Pienaar, the Springbok captain.
As with all post-apartheid literature and movies, the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation dominates. I loved the scene in which Mandela's security detail is met in the presidential offices by the white presidential guard detail, carried over from the previous administration. Mandela has invited them back to their old role. When his men object, reminding Mandela that these men and their cohorts had beaten them and their neighbors. Mandela calmly insists that this is a time of reconciliation and forgiveness, and that it will start in his office.
Invictus, an inspiring sports movie, goes way beyond the underdog to championship tale, but tells the story of a broken nation being brought back together under the leadership of one of the most remarkable statesmen of the century. Watch this movie.
Bottom line, 4 stars.