Invictus is a 2009 biographical drama film based on events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted in that country following the dismantling of apartheid. Directed by Clint Eastwood the film stars Morgan Freeman as South African President Nelson Mandela, Matt Damon as François Pienaar the captain of the Springboks, the South African rugby union team.
The story is based on the John Carlin book playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation.
After South Africa elected Nelson Mandela president, the racially divided country could've easily erupted into civil war. In Clint Eastwood's determinedly populist, yet heartfelt look back at that time, the director examines one of the more ingenious steps Mandela (Morgan Freeman in a performance of sly charm) took to prevent that from happening. Knowing that his country was set to host the Rugby World Cup in 1995, Mandela believed the national team could provide an example of reconciliation in action.
François Pienaar (an unbelievably buff Matt Damon) the mostly white Springboks inspired devotion among Afrikaners and disgust among native Africans. Instead of changing their name or colors, Mandela encouraged them to win for the sake of their homeland. During the year leading up to the event, the team learns to work together as never before, just as Mandela's newly integrated security detail, a combination of cops and activists, finds a way to bridge their ideological differences. By the time of the big day, the poorly ranked Springboks are well equipped to hold their own against New Zealand's All Blacks (so named for their uniforms, not their racial composition). Drawing from John Carlin's Playing the Enemy, Anthony Peckham's script takes its title, Latin for "unconquerable," from a British poem Mandela held close to his heart during the 27 years he spent in prison. If Damon's accent is more convincing, Freeman serves as the film's heart--and as a timely reminder that reconciliation is never easy, but that it will always trump revenge.
Morgan Freeman was born to play this role, he knew so, and that's why he produced this film. A dream project of his, waiting for someone to take the job of directing, his old friend Clint Eastwood steps in. Who says no to Clint? Especially Freeman, who under Eastwood's direction won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, Invictus, William Ernest Henley, which is read by Mandela in the film, is well crafted and has a strong lead role.