“Invictus” meaning unconquered looks like a sports movie from the outside but when you sit through the 2 hours and 10 minutes movie you would realize that it is a feel good movie with a blend of politics and sports in the apartheid era of South Africa. The movie begins with Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) getting released after a period of over two decades in prison. He steps to the free world outside at a time when the country is reeling under severe poverty and the crime rate is at an all time high and not to mention the affluent whites still look down at the blacks with disrespect.

After four years of his release he gets elected as the president of South Africa and he has his plate full as the President of a country where the economy is crashing. His first and foremost wish is to bring in the unity amongst the whites and the blacks. When Mandela watches a rugby match in which the South African team loses to England badly, it immediately fires a spark in his mind. The team which consists of mostly white players is captained by Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) and Mandela invites him over and infuse in him the spirit of the country and the passion the team carries on their shoulders.

Mandela simultaneously brings about a change in the mindset of the people around him right from having the white body guards and the presidential staffs retained along with building a passion for the game as he had experienced the power of how the game unites Africans together when he was in prison. The movie climaxes with the 1995 World Rugby Championship held in South Africa and the team’s achievements in the tournament exceeding the expectations of the public.

Director Clint Eastwood has taken a neutral stand on Mandela’s life as he does not dwell deep into the political repercussions he had faced during his presidential stint. The movie which is loosely based on the book titled “Playing The Enemy” written by John Carlin brings together the feeling of oneness and the pride of each and every citizen of the apartheid torn country. The director especially scores heavily in the end sequence where a black rag picker who initially wanders near the car radio of a white policeman wanting to hear the proceedings inside the stadium slowly becomes a person amongst them forgetting the racial difference amongst them when the same white policeman buys him a coke in the deciding moments of the match.

Morgan Freeman in the role of Nelson Mandela is brilliant and special credit must be given to the make-up department for bringing the closest resemblance possible with the real Nelson Mandela. Matt Damon after his spate of insignificant roles in many movies has finally landed himself a role that has substance and the way in which he has carried himself in the role is truly appreciable.

“Invictus” is truly an amazing inspirational film.

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