Invictus (film): Wikis


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His people needed a leader.
He gave them a champion.
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Produced by Clint Eastwood
Lori McCreary
Robert Lorenz
Mace Neufeld
Written by Screenplay:
Anthony Peckham
John Carlin
Starring Matt Damon
Morgan Freeman
Music by Kyle Eastwood
Michael Stevens
Cinematography Tom Stern
Editing by Joel Cox
Gary D. Roach
Studio Spyglass Entertainment
Revelations Entertainment
Malpaso Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) December 11, 2009
Running time 133 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $50 million[1]
Gross revenue $120,831,431

Invictus is a 2009 biographical drama film based on Nelson Mandela's life during the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film stars Morgan Freeman as South African President Mandela and Matt Damon as François Pienaar, the South African team captain.[2] The story is based on the John Carlin book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation. Invictus was released in the United States on December 11, 2009.



After decades in a Robben Island prison, Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) is released in 1990 and works immediately to bring about the end of apartheid and the initiation of full democratic elections where the black majority population can vote. Mandela wins the race for President of South Africa and takes office in 1994. His immediate challenge is "balancing black aspirations with white fears." The country's still-present racial tensions are shown, in part, through Mandela's security team, which is composed both of new black and old white officials. The black and white groups are immediately hostile to one another despite sharing the same job and goal.

While Mandela attempts to tackle the country's largest problems - including crime and unemployment - he attends a game of the Springboks, the country's rugby union team. Non-whites in the stadium cheer against their home squad, as the Springboks (their history, players and even their colours) represent prejudice and apartheid in their mind. Knowing that South Africa is set to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup in one year's time, Mandela manages to convince a meeting of the South African Sports Committee not to change the Springboks team, name and colours. He then meets with the Springboks' captain François Pienaar (Matt Damon). Though Mandela never verbalizes his true meaning during their meeting, Pienaar understands the message below the surface: if the Springboks can gain the support of non-white South Africans and succeed in the upcoming World Cup, the country will be unified and inspired. Mandela also shares with Pienaar that a poem, Invictus, had been inspiring to him during his time in prison, helping him to "stand when all he wanted to do was lie down".

Pienaar and his teammates train, but the players (all but one are white) voice disapproval that they are to be envoys to the poor and public - fearing exhaustion from overwork. Mandela, too, hears disapproval from friends and family. Many more, both white and non-white citizens and politicians, began to express doubts on using sport to unite a nation torn apart by some 50 years of racial tensions. For many non-white, especially the radicals, the Springboks symbolised white supremacy and they did not want to support their national team. As the tournament approaches, Mandela collapses from exhaustion and the Springboks' only non-white player, Chester Williams, is sidelined with a pulled hamstring.

Things begin to change, however, as the players went around interacting with the locals. During the opening games, support for the Springboks begins to grow amongst the non-white population. By the second game Williams is fit once again. Citizens of all races turn out in numbers to show their unanimous support for the Springboks. At the suggestion of several security guards, Mandela decides to sport a Springbok jersey with Pienaar's number 6 on it to show his support and his name is chanted repeatedly by the home crowd during his entrance, a contrast to a previous rugby match scene, in which Mandela is booed by some of the whites in the crowd. As momentum builds, even the security team members become at ease with each other and the black members who disliked Rugby Union eventually began to enthusiastically support their national team alongside their white colleagues.

The Springboks, possessing a sub-par record, were not expected to go very far and are expected to lose in the quarterfinals. They surpass all expectations and make the final, only to face the New Zealand team - called the All Blacks - the most successful rugby team in the world, the favourites to win the World Cup and historically the Springboks' greatest rivals. Roared on by a large home crowd of both whites and non-white, Pienaar motivates his team to overcome their doubts and push their bodies to the limits. After ending in a tie, the game goes into extra time, where the Springboks win on a long drop kick from fly-half Joel Stransky (Scott Eastwood) and a score of 15-12. Mandela and Pienaar meet on the field together to celebrate the improbable victory amidst a crowd of some 62,000 fans—of all races. Once there, Mandela thanks Pienaar for his service to the nation, but Pienaar insists the President that he deserves the real thanks. In one particular scene, some white police officers celebrate by hoisting a young black boy, who had been lingering near their vehicle to listen to the radio broadcast of the game, onto their shoulders.



The film is based on the book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation by John Carlin.[4] The filmmakers met with Carlin for a week in his Barcelona home, discussing how to transform the book into a screenplay.[5] Morgan Freeman was the first actor to be cast, as Mandela. Matt Damon was then cast as François Pienaar, despite being significantly smaller than him[6] and much smaller than members of the current Springbok squad.[7] He was given intensive coaching by Chester Williams, another star of the 1995 team, at the Gardens Rugby League Club.[8] Filming began in March 2009 in Cape Town. "In terms of stature and stars, this certainly is one of the biggest films ever to be made in South Africa," said Laurence Mitchell, the head of the Cape Film Commission.[9] On March 18, 2009, Scott Eastwood was cast in an unspecified role, but it is understood to be flyhalf Joel Stransky (whose drop goal provided the Springboks' winning margin in the 1995 final).[10] Over Christmas 2008 auditions had taken place in London to try to find a well-known British actor to play Pienaar's father, but in March it was decided to cast a lesser-known South African actor instead.[11] The ex Bath Rugby League player Zak Feaunati, was cast as New Zealand player Jonah Lomu.[12] Primary filming in South Africa was completed in May 2009.[5] Grant Roberts was cast as Ruben Kruger, who was the Springboks' other starting flanker in 1995.



The film currently holds an 77% "Fresh" rating with a 6.7/10 average on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 163 reviews.[13]

Critic David Ansen wrote:[14]

Anthony Peckham's sturdy, functional screenplay, based on John Carlin's book Playing the Enemy, can be a bit on the nose (and the message songs Eastwood adds are overkill). Yet the lapses fade in the face of such a soul-stirring story - one that would be hard to believe if it were fiction. The wonder of Invictus is that it actually went down this way.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half stars[15] and wrote:

It is a very good film. It has moments evoking great emotion, as when the black and white members of the presidential security detail (hard-line ANC activists and Afrikaner cops) agree with excruciating difficulty to serve together. And when Damon's character - François Pienaar, as the team captain - is shown the cell where Mandela was held for those long years on Robben Island. My wife, Chaz, and I were taken to the island early one morning by Ahmed Kathrada, one of Mandela's fellow prisoners, and yes, the movie shows his very cell, with the thin blankets on the floor. You regard that cell and you think, here a great man waited in faith for his rendezvous with history.

Shave Magazine's Jake Tomlinson wrote:[16]

Eastwood's film shows how sport can unify people, a straightforward and moving message that leaves audiences cheering. The sports, accurate portrayal and the solid storyline earn this movie a manliness rating of 3/5. However, the entertainment value, historical accuracy and strong message this movie delivers earn it an overall rating of 4.5 stars. Definitely, worth seeing.

Variety's Todd McCarthy wrote:[17]

Inspirational on the face of it, Clint Eastwood's film has a predictable trajectory, but every scene brims with surprising details that accumulate into a rich fabric of history, cultural impressions and emotion.

FilmDrunk's Vince Mancini wrote:[18]

Bottom line, in a film like this, where we know essentially how the plot’s going to play out just from watching the trailer, the key is charisma, and none of the rugby league [sic] players have it. It’s an admirable miss for Eastwood.

Box office

The film opened at #3 with $US8,611,147 behind The Princess and the Frog and The Blind Side. Currently its total stands at $US79,274,407, including $US36.6 million in North America.

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

NAACP Image Awards

  • Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture - Morgan Freeman (Won)

National Board of Review (2009)

The film had been nominated for two awards from the National Board of Review in the following categories:

  • Freedom of Expression Award - (Won)
  • NBR Award for Best Director - Clint Eastwood (Won)
  • NBR Award for Best Actor - Morgan Freeman (Won: tied with George Clooney for Up In The Air)

WAFCA Award (2009)

The film had been nominated for two awards from the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association awards in the following categories:

  • Best Actor - Morgan Freeman
  • Best Director - Clint Eastwood

Broadcast Film Critics' Association Awards (2010)

The film had been nominated for four awards from the Broadcast Film Critics' Association in the following categories:

  • Best Film
  • Best Director - Clint Eastwood
  • Best Actor - Morgan Freeman
  • Best Supporting Actor - Matt Damon

Screen Actors' Guild (2010)

The film had been nominated for two awards from the Screen Actors' Guild in the following categories:

  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role - Morgan Freeman
  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role - Matt Damon

Golden Globes (2010)

The film had been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards in the following categories:

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role - Motion Picture Drama - Morgan Freeman
  • Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture - Matt Damon
  • Best Director - Motion Picture - Clint Eastwood


Historical inaccuracies

  • Johan de Villiers, the TV commentator who first bad-mouths the Boks and then praises the Springboks, after the final whistle, asks the question of Pienaar: "What did it feel like to have 62,000 fans supporting you in the stadium?" and receives the answer: "We didn't have 62,000 fans behind us, we had 43 million South Africans." It was in fact an SABC reporter called David van der Sandt.
  • During the Rugby World Cup Final, security men are shocked to see what appears to be a low-flying jumbo jet, only to see it is harmless. In reality, all security staff were briefed about the jet manoeuvres planned for that day.
  • During the scene where the fans are entering Ellis Park Stadium for the 1995 Rugby League World Cup Final, advertising banners can be seen in the distance that read "Coca-Cola Park", which did not become the stadium's name until 2008.
  • After meeting the players Mandela immediately leaves the field; in reality he remained on the pitch until the national anthems had been sung.
  • François Pienaar did not sing the national anthem as shown in the film.
  • Pitch had current markings at 15m rather than those used in 1995. Actual game-ending play was an error at back of scrum, rather than ball being kicked into touch.
  • In reality, Mandela provided Pienaar with an extract from Theodore Roosevelt's "The Man in the Arena" speech from 1910, rather than Henley's "Invictus".

Other inaccuracies

  • Typos in credits: when the performers for each rugby team are listed, it is the Springboks, the All Blacks and the England Rose's [sic]. It should be simply England (rather than England Roses and especially not "Rose's") since the team does not have a nickname. "Jonah Lomu" appears incorrectly as "Jonah Lumu."
  • There are a few minor gaffes in the film's depiction of Rugby Union gameplay. For instance, the starting kick in the final did not appear to go 10 metres, which would have been an infringement of the rules. However because the opposing team picked up the ball and played on, play would be allowed to go on by the referee.[19] Also, in the opening World Cup match against Australia, the Springboks are shown scoring the first try. A later shot of the scoreboard shows South Africa on 9 points - a score which, under Rugby Union's scoring system, it would not be possible to attain after scoring a try.
  • Several All Black supporters in the crowd at the final of the 1995 World Cup are waving a flag using a logo adopted several years after.
  • In some scenes signs can be seen from the 1999 Rugby World Cup hosted by Wales, as footage from that tournament would have been used in filming.
  • When the South African team are jogging through the streets of Johannesburg, they run past a Hyundai Getz, a car that was launched in 2002.
  • The majority of the crowd's flags when England beat South Africa in the first match of the film are Union Flags (for the United Kingdom) rather than St. George flags (for England). These are in fact a rarity in those circumstances because Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales are all represented by their own teams in rugby, unless they are playing as the supranational team known as the Lions. (note - for rugby union Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, plays as a joint team with Republic of Ireland, which is not part of the UK.)
  • The Gilbert rugby balls used in the matches are manufactured to a design which was not around in 1995.
  • The line outs that are shown within the film use the modern day rule where the player can be picked up during the throw from the hooker. In 1995 this would not have happened because it had not been introduced yet.
  • During scenes where a scrum is being played, some players are wearing the Nike Air Legend boot which was not realeased until 2005.

Soundtrack listing

  1. "9000 days" - Overtone with Yollande Nortjie
  2. "Invictus Theme" - Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens
  3. "Colourblind" - Overtone
  4. "Siyalinda" - Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens
  5. "World in Union 95" - Overtone with Yollande Nortjie
  6. "Madiba's theme" - Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens
  7. "Hamba Nathi" - Overtone with Yollande Nortjie
  8. "Thanda" - Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens
  9. "Shosholoza" - Overtone with Yollande Nortjie
  10. "Inkathi" - Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens

See also


  1. ^ Thompson On Hollywood on
  2. ^ Stephensen, Hunter (March 14, 2009). "First Look: Clint Eastwood's The Human Factor with Matt Damon". Slash Film. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  3. ^ Turner, Robin (March 22, 2009) "Life on the set with Clint Eastwood, by Welsh actor", Wales on Sunday. Retrieved on 2009-05-06.
  4. ^ Leyes, Nick (March 15, 2009). "Matt Damon takes rugby league to Hollywood. Somanth as Matt Damon's brother". Daily Telegraph.,22049,25187212-5006010,00.html. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  5. ^ a b Interview with Carlin, BBC Radio 5, May 21, 2009
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Rappe, Elisabeth (March 16, 2009). "Matt Damon Goes Blond For 'The Human Factor'". Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  9. ^ "Matt Damon injured at rugby league training". The Times (South Africa). March 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  10. ^ White, James (March 18, 2009). "Scott Eastwood joins the Nelson Mandela pic: Clint casts his son…". Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  11. ^ Jones, Alice-Azania (March 16, 2009). "Pandora: An accent beyond the best of British". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  12. ^ (March 25, 2009). Zak Feaunati to play Jonah Lomu in film, BBC News. Retrieved on 2009-05-06.
  13. ^ "Invictus". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 27, 2009. 
  14. ^ David Ansen (November 25, 2009). "‘Invictus’: A Whole New Ballgame". Newsweek. Retrieved 2009-12-07. 
  15. ^ Roger Ebert (December 9, 2009). "Invictus". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  16. ^ Jake Tomlinson (December 10, 2009). "Review: Invictus". SHAVE. Retrieved 2009-12-23. 
  17. ^ Todd McCarthy (November 27, 2009). "Invictus". Variety. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  18. ^ Vince Mancini (December 28, 2009). "INVICTUS A MISS FOR EASTWOOD". FilmDrunk. Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  19. ^

External links

Template:Rugby league in South Africa

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