Just to preface, I’m not much of a movie critic. I either like a movie or I don’t, and my rationale is pretty random. The movie Invictus is dealing with the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Nelson Mandela, who had been elected president of the new South Africa the year before, called Francois Pienaar, the captain of the Springboks (the national team) to his office for a chat. The thought was that winning this world cup could do a lot to bring all South Africans together… but primarily, the Afrikaaners in accepting him as their leader.
To give you some insight from my perspective, I’ve noticed a handful of sub-categories in the Afrikaaner community. There are those who are frustrated about the end of Apartheid, not because they’re necessarily racists, but because they’re tired of having to apologize. Then there are those who are pretty fed up with the former group because all of the comforts that white South Africans have was built on the back of an oppressive system. Those are the extremes… then you have everyone in between (which honestly is quite a few people from what i’ve gathered).
Walking out of the movie theater, it was really amazing to look at the faces of the older Afrikaaner men and women. Some looked as if they were in tears, others speechless. I can’t help but wonder how they were absorbing this film. Winning the rugby World Cup is a lot like how our friends and family in Indiana felt when the Colts schooled the Bears in the Super Bowl. But it’s even more impressive than that! This is DEEP in the culture here. And the move that Mandela made by initiating relationship with the team, going to the games, getting interviewed by sports stations… he was their biggest cheer leader. In so many ways, I think that single act helped bring peace to a nation on the verge of a civil war.
The coolest part for me was what it did for my heart. I’ve been to Loftus Stadium in Pretoria several times now. I’ve experienced the pride of the Afrikaaner (the Blou Bull Rugby experience really is something). The office of the president can be seen from the area of Pretoria we’re going to be moving into… I saw my home on the big screen with Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. I was moved to tears a few times thinking about what we get to be part of here. It’s special. It’s hard and complicated… but it’s a special thing.
As for the movie itself, if you don’t like rugby, I still think you’ll like the story line. Morgan Freeman was BRILLIANT, and I really think he should win an oscar for this performance. He nailed the role. For the story, I give it 2 thumbs up. For whole thing, I’d probably give it one up. I wish there had been more relational development between Madiba and Pienaar.