Invictus Parent Guide
This is the best kind of sports film with riveting scenes both on and off the field.
Parent Movie Review
Any time athletes compete on the international stage, they feel the weight of their country’s hopes. But few teams feel that pressure more intensely than South Africa’s Springboks as they prepare to compete on home court in the 1995 Rugby World Cup tournament. Their nation doesn’t just want a win; it needs a victory to unify a society torn apart by decades of apartheid (legally mandated racial segregation) and the ensuing fight to end white minority rule.
Springbok team captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) isn’t optimistic about his team’s chances. They haven’t been playing well and the mostly white players are unsettled by the election of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman). Furthermore, they are concerned that Mandela’s government will disband the team, long cherished by South Africa’s white Afrikaners and equally loathed by its black citizens. When Pienaar receives a phone call, inviting him to tea with Mandela, he is understandably anxious…
Invictus is the best kind of sports movie. Not only does it provide exciting sports footage that will please any rugby fan, but it has lessons that go far beyond the rugby field. This film is built on themes of forgiveness, reconciliation, empathy, and mercy. Most of those positive messages stem from Nelson Mandela himself. Despite having been imprisoned by South Africa’s apartheid government for 27 years, Mandela sought to build a multiracial country; not a black state driven by revenge against Afrikaners. Having spent decades in prison learning his captors’ language and coming to understand their culture, he is convinced that South Africa’s future lies in having black and white citizens work together. And he believes that promoting the Springboks will reassure white Afrikaners of their place in the new South Africa, while also providing a new national symbol for the black majority. To reach this goal, Mandela is willing to spend some of his political capital.
Parents need have little concern over content issues in this film aside from some profanity and alcohol consumption. Instead, they can celebrate this depiction of people who are wholly dedicated to the good of their country and are willing to move beyond the evils of the past. Moral courage is all too rare a virtue, but it plays out across the big screen in this movie. And this trait is exemplified in a poem Mandela shares with Pienaar, and which explains much of his remarkable life: ”It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”Directed by Clint Eastwood. Starring Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood. Running time: 134 minutes. Theatrical release December 11, 2009. Updated September 12, 2020
Watch the trailer for Invictus
Rating & Content Info
Why is Invictus rated PG-13? Invictus is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for brief strong language.
This film contains depictions of racially motivated conflicts and riots (with portrayals of injured characters and a corpse) along with derogatory comments about other racial groups. Intense scenes of rough sports play are shown infrequently and include some blood. Characters drink in a bar, at home and at social events on numerous occasions. One character turns down the sexual advances of his fiancée. Another man comments briefly on the advantages of polygamy. A strong sexual expletive is used along with infrequent profanities and scatological slang.
Page last updated September 12, 2020
Invictus Parents' Guide
If you can’t get enough of that rugby final, you can watch more on these links:
YouTube: 1995 Rugby World Cup Final – Extended Highlights
YouTube: Rugby World Cup 1995 New Zealand vs South Africa
YouTube: Springboks unite a nation: RWC 1995 final
Mandela’s greatest achievement is the peaceful transition of South Africa from white minority rule to a universal democracy. How does your country handle the conflicts that exist between different ethnic or racial groups? The African National Congress (Mandela’s political party) set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to uncover the truth about the abuses carried out by the apartheid governments of South Africa. Witnesses who testified about abuses and their participation therein were given amnesty. The belief was that South Africans needed to first, know and acknowledge the truth of their past; and second, move beyond it. For more information about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, you can click on these links:
South African History Online: Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
The Guardian: Special report: Truth, justice and reconciliation
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Invictus is based on a book by journalist John Carlin entitled Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation.
Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, chronicles his life through his imprisonment on Robben Island to his election as South Africa’s first black President.
Cry the Beloved Country is set in South Africa during the rise of apartheid. Written by Alan Paton, it follows Reverend Stephen Kumalo as he searches for his son Absalom.
The most recent home video release of Invictus movie is May 18, 2010. Here are some details…
Invictus releases to DVD and Blu-ray on May 18, 2010.
Invictus releases on DVD with the following bonus extras:
- Matt Damon Plays Rugby
- Invictus music trailer
Invictus also releases in a 2-Disc set offering the movie on DVD and Blu-ray. This package includes the bonus estras listed above, plus:
- Vision, Courage and Honor: Clint Eastwood and the Power of a True Story
-Mandela Meets Morgan
- The Eastwood Factor
- Bonus Digital Copy of Invictus
Related home video titles:
Sports provide the background for other movies that deal with difficult racial issues. In Coach Carter, a high school basketball coach takes an unpopular stance when he locks the inner city players out of the gym until they bring up their grade point averages. Collegiate coach Dan Haskins ruffles more than feathers when he signs up some Black athletes to play for the Texas Western Miners in Glory Road. A debate team made up of African-American students prepares to compete against the prestigious Harvard University in The Great Debaters. Those looking for more on South Africa should check out Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which stars Idris Elba as the charismatic young man who dreams of a different South Africa. Older viewers might find Cry Freedom, which stars Denzel Washington as Steve Biko, an activist for the end of Apartheid who struggles to make his point understood among the white minority. It also features Kevin Kline as Donald Woods, a journalist who attempts to amplify Biko’s voice.