Film: 2009: December: "Invictus"


In Theatres Friday, December 11, 2009

Official Invictus web site:

From director Clint Eastwood, "Invictus" tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) joined forces with the captain of South Africa's rugby team, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), to help unite their country.

Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa's underdog rugby team as they make an unlikely run to the 1995 World Cup Championship match.

Photo above: MORGAN FREEMAN as Nelson Mandela in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Spyglass Entertainment's drama "Invictus," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Keith BernsteinJohn Keats, the romantic poet, wrote the love poem Bright Star for his 18 year-old next door neighbour Fanny Brawne. This is the story of their first love.

Invictus Movie Trailer

Watch the Official "Invictus" movie trailer from Warner Bros. Pictures through Hulu. Nelson Mandela tries to unite his countrymen following the fall of apartheid in South. Click on the white triangle to start the movie.

"Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people, in a way that little else does." - Nelson Mandela

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Spyglass Entertainment, a Revelations Entertainment / Mace Neufeld production, a Malpaso production, "Invictus," starring Oscar® winners Morgan Freeman ("Million Dollar Baby," "The Dark Knight") and Matt Damon ("Good Will Hunting," the "Bourne" franchise).

The film is produced by Eastwood, Lori McCreary, Robert Lorenz and Mace Neufeld. The screenplay is by Anthony Peckham, based upon the book Playing the Enemy, by John Carlin. Freeman, Tim Moore, Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum are the executive producers.
Behind the scenes, Eastwood reunited with many of his longtime collaborators, including director of photography Tom Stern, production designer James J. Murakami, editors Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach, and costume designer Deborah Hopper. The music is by Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens.

Filming on "Invictus" was accomplished entirely on location in and around the cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa.
"Invictus" is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

The film has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for brief strong language.

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The 1995 World Cup Final was, to most people around the world, little more than a thrilling rugby match. But to the people of South Africa, it was a turning point in their history--a shared experience that helped to heal the wounds of the past even as it gave new hope for the future. The architect of this benchmark event was the nation's president, Nelson Mandela. Its builders were the members of South Africa's rugby team, the Springboks, led by their captain, Francois Pienaar.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, "Invictus" chronicles how President Mandela and Francois Pienaar joined forces to turn their individual hopes--the president, to unite his country; the captain, to lead the nation's team to World Cup glory--into one shared goal with the motto "One team, one country."

In the film, Mandela calls upon Pienaar to lead his team to greatness, citing a poem that was a source of inspiration and strength to him during his years in prison. It is later revealed that the poem is "Invictus," by William Ernest Henley. The title is translated to mean "unconquered," which, Eastwood says, "doesn't represent any one character element of the story. It takes on a broader meaning over the course of the film."

Morgan Freeman stars in the role of Nelson Mandela and also serves as an executive producer on the film. "This is an important story about a world-shaking event that too few people know about," he states. "I cannot think of any moment in history when a nation coalesced so suddenly and so completely. I was proud to have the opportunity to tell this story. And when you have the chance to tell it with Clint Eastwood's's something you just have to do."

As "Invictus" opens, Nelson Mandela--a man who had spent 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid--is elected president of a South Africa that is still bitterly divided. Though the unjust system has officially ended, the long-held racial lines between people cannot easily be erased. With his country teetering on the brink of implosion, President Mandela sees hope in an unlikely place: the rugby field. With South Africa poised to host the World Cup Finals, Mandela looks to unite the country behind their national team, the Springboks.

Eastwood notes, "This story takes place at a critical point in Mandela's presidency. I think he demonstrated great wisdom in incorporating sport to reconcile his country. He knows he needs to pull everybody together, to find a way to appeal to their national pride--one thing, perhaps the only thing, they have in common at that time. He knows the white population and the black population will ultimately have to work together as a team or the country will not succeed, so he shows a lot of creativity using a sports team as a means to an end."

That end is Mandela's dream of a "rainbow nation," starting with the Springbok colors of green and gold. The president's plan is not without risk. In the face of daunting social and economic crises, even his closest advisors question why he is focusing on something as seemingly insignificant as rugby. Many also wonder how he can support the Springboks, especially at a time when black South Africans want to permanently eradicate the name and emblem they have long despised as a symbol of apartheid. But Mandela has the foresight to recognize that eliminating the white South Africans' beloved rugby team will only widen the rift between the races to a point where it might never be bridged.

Putting the story in perspective, John Carlin, the author of the book Playing the Enemy, on which the film is based, explains, "What you have to understand is that the green shirt of the Springboks was a powerful reminder to black South Africans of apartheid. They hated that shirt because it symbolized, as much as anything else did, the tremendous indignities to which they were subjected. Mandela's genius was to recognize that this symbol of division and hatred could be transformed into a powerful instrument of national unity."

Screenwriter Anthony Peckham is a native of South Africa, giving him special insight to the story's time and place. He adds, "Mandela realized he had a perfect opportunity to address the part of the electorate that had not voted for him...that, in truth, feared him. White South Africans followed the Springboks religiously, so to use the forum of the World Cup was brilliant. But it wasn't just a game; it was the fact that Mandela embraced a team that black South Africans hated and almost by force of will dragged all of the people into following them."

Nevertheless, a rugby match cannot be decided in the halls of government, so Mandela reaches out to the one man who can help him accomplish his objective: the captain of the Springbok team, Francois Pienaar. Matt Damon portrays the rugby player who suddenly finds himself in the center of a political arena. "Mandela basically asks him to exceed his country's expectations and his own expectations and win the World Cup," the actor says. "It's an enormous request, but Francois knows that it's actually bigger than any rugby match. And along the way, the entire team realize they have become an important instrument in bringing their country together. It's a beautiful, inspiring story that shines a light on the best of who we are and what human beings are capable of. And what makes it more incredible is that it really happened."

Francois Pienaar agrees with his onscreen counterpart. "I've always maintained that Hollywood could not have imagined a better story than what happened in South Africa in 1995. I was fortunate enough to be the captain of a wonderful group of men who were focused on uniting our country, and we could not have asked for a better leader than Nelson Mandela to help us do that."

As the host country of that year's World Cup, South Africa is automatically qualified to compete. But the Springboks were unarguable underdogs, largely because of their lack of experience on the world stage. Eastwood explains, "Because of apartheid, South Africa had been banned from participating in international sporting events for years. So no one thinks the Springboks have much chance of winning, including them. But they open themselves up to the possibility."

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