By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
With Clint Eastwood directing, Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela, and Matt Damon sharing top billing, how could Invictus fail? The answer is that it doesn’t, as this rich historical drama provides great insight into South African history and the philosophy of one of the 20th century’s greatest leaders. The film tells the true story of Mandela’s presidency as he struggles to overcome prejudice and years of hatred and violence between blacks and whites. Seeing in the nation’s rugby team an opportunity to unite his people, he befriends the team’s captain (Damon).
While loaded with true-life sports movie clichés, Invictus overcomes them through the strength of its acting and the attention to political detail, from the desire of blacks to take back their country to the fears of whites about losing their voice in the newly democratic nation. I was fascinated and moved by the power of Mandela’s philosophies of forgiveness, respect, and fellowship to steer both groups in the direction of unity. Invictus has brief strong language but is otherwise free of potentially offensive content.
For another fantastic film about the unifying power of athletics, check out Remember the Titans!