A Summary of The Movie Invictus

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Words: 620 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Words: 620|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Invictus is the inspirational true story of Nelson Mandela and his attempts to unify his people. The movie is set in South Africa during the election of President Nelson Mandela and the emergence of 1995 Rugby World Cup victors.

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The story revolves around Nelson Mandela’s strategy in reconciling the South African Nation. The movie starts with the image of a split society; where, on one side, there are black children in torn clothes playing football on barren terrain, and on the other side, white children playing rugby on a playground covered in lush green grass. The juxtaposition between both sides is observed, and coincides with the moment Nelson Mandela was released from 27 years of incarceration.

Mandela was elected as the first black president of the newly desegregated South Africa on May 10th, 1994. His first day of office, Mr. Mandela, along with his bodyguards, were walking before dawn when a bus dropped a pile of newspapers with a headline: “He can win an election, but can he rule the country?”. This question triggered Mr. Mandela to think about his vision to unite his nation and remove racism. He believed that a violent uprising against apartheid would have horrific consequences otherwise. Therefore, finding some way to create a nonviolent transition to a majority rule was essential to his vision. But how do you persuade such diverse groups to let go off their deep-seated fears and resentments and pursue a common purpose? The answer was to benefit from the Rugby World Cup hosted by his country and consider it an opportunity to achieve his goals.

The Springboks (South Africa’s Rugby team) was formed by the Afrikaners and was dominated by the White players. The black public in South Africa despised the Springboks, as it was a symbol of white oppression and years of abuse and violence. As only the Caucasian public supported the Springboks. Mr. Mandela saw what could have been a divisive event as an opportunity for healing and progress. He recognized that rugby had a deeper meaning off the field, and that the World Cup had the potential to become a symbolic opportunity for reconciliation and forgiveness. His vision was an inclusive “rainbow nation,” and he wanted his actions to portray what he believed in.

The presidential guard displayed serious disagreements to Mr. Mandela about the union with their white counterparts. To this, Mr. Mandela answered “You represent me, directly. The rainbow nation starts here. Reconciliation starts here (...); forgiveness also starts here,” (Invictus 2010). One poignant moment comes when the executive council vote to outlaw the Springboks’ name and colors. Mandela drops everything to overturn this decision.

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Mr. Mandela’s presence and kindness were key motivating factors for Mr. Pienaar when he challenged him saying that “an opportunity was in the waiting in having billion people watch the match”. He later gave Pienaar a copy of the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, saying that it had helped him when the future looked very bleak. It famously ends with the line: “I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul”. At the end of the meeting, Francois realized his adoption of Mr. Mandela’s vision and change in his perspective of the game. He then believed, how important it was for the Springboks to win for South Africa. The players visited Robben Island, where Mr. Mandela was imprisoned. There, Pienaar was moved by the story of Mandela ‘having spent years in a tiny cell and coming out ready to forgive the people who put him there’. This led him to inspire his underperforming team and in the last scene Mandela strides onto the rugby field at Ellis Park Stadium wearing a Springboks jersey to present the trophy to the team captain.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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A Summary Of The Movie Invictus. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 17, 2024, from
“A Summary Of The Movie Invictus.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021,
A Summary Of The Movie Invictus. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 Jul. 2024].
A Summary Of The Movie Invictus [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Aug 06 [cited 2024 Jul 17]. Available from:
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