Invictus is a movie about forgiveness, something we are told to do by Jesus, something that God has done for us through Jesus, and something that we are always lacking in. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for almost 3 decades by the ruling white minority in South Africa. He was the focal point in the movement to free the oppressed majority of native black south Africans. As Mandela put it in the movie, the practice of apartheid made South Africa the skunk of the world, and rightfully so. As a child, it seemed like such a strange and old practice to govern a country in such a way. To make a long story short, they finally freed Mandela and eventually made him President. It would have been easy for Mandela to use his new office as a means of exacting revenge on the minority white population. Who hasn’t done something similar in their own lives. But he knew that everyone would be looking to him to see how he handled his power, and he did it through forgiveness. If you remember after our own civil war, we attempted a policy of forgiveness with the South. We didn’t imprison generals like Robert E. Lee for all the men he killed, or Jefferson Davis for leading the South in rebellion (there were punishments handed out for mistreatment of prisoners such as those at Andersonville).
What Invictus does is tell the story about how Mandela used the sport of Rugby and the South African National Team, the springboks, as the focal point for walking out forgiveness. The black South Africans had long hated the symbol of white power, the springboks, and would root for the opposing team. It was a foregone conclusion that they would get rid of the team’s identity once they took power. Mandela took an odd and passionate interest in the success of the team, helping to inspire them to victory in the 1995 world cup over the famed New Zealand All Blacks, and more importantly, helping to inspire a nation to unify under the banner of forgiveness flown over a rugby field.
As a movie critic, I enjoyed the first 1.5 hours of the movie, seeing how people progressively got more comfortable with one another through the example Mandela showed. My one critique comes from the direction of the last Rugby match. Since most people have no idea how to play rugby, dragging out a match in which you have no idea if something is good or bad on the screen, and doing so in slow motion was poor direction and added unnecessary length to the movie. Over all, I give it two thumbs up on the basis of story.