A Theme of Unity and Pride in The Film Invictus

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Words: 1229 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Words: 1229|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

In Clint Eastwood's film, Invictus, unity may be defined as patriotism, love, and loyalty to the country, as manifested in a sense of social inclusion and harmony.

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Moreover, it is the feeling of joy and satisfaction in reaction to a victory, sporting and otherwise. Upon the film's triumphant conclusion, movie viewers are prompted to understand the long-gone days of tension and hostility, and that a common sense of joy and pride has taken its place. As the plot unfolds, Eastwood uses the depiction of minor characters to demonstrate that national unity and celebration stems from an individual's decision to forgive and forget. Moreover, as the Springboks slowly ameliorate their negative image, their road to victory and the victory in the rugby championship also becomes a reason for South Africans to come together in proud celebration. Lastly, in the depiction of the persuasive and venerable political leader, Nelson Mandela, movie viewers see that his ideas, words, and actions played a pivotal role in creating a sense of unity in all South Africans alike.

Eastwood reveals that South Africans eventually experience a sense of satisfaction and joy through letting go of the past. This is clearly communicated through the film's linear progression, from unrest and racial segregation, to being united in celebrating Springbok's victory. In particular, in the film's first few opening scenes, Eastwood constructs a scene of the sun rising above the dilapidated makeshift huts in the impoverished townships. This is symbolically representative of the renewed hope that South Africa has in conjunction with Mandela's ascent to presidency. This shot also foreshadows the dawn of a new day and the closing of a very dark chapter of South African history. Where entrenched conflict and social segregation used to prevail, this was steadily on the mend in the post-apartheid era. In order to dramatize this, Eastwood uses the minor character, Sipho, to establish how a commitment to forgiveness leads to individual satisfaction and joy. When movie viewers first see Sipho, he portrayed as an orphan. Using this scene, Eastwood alludes to his traumatic and tragic past, allowing discerning audience members to make the connection that his parents were probably killed as a direct result of the violence in apartheid. As if to add insult to injury, Sipho is dependent on the church charity box for warm clothes. When the camera zooms in on his disappointed countenance as the white Afrikaner holds out a Springbok training jersey, movie viewers fully comprehend the magnitude of social segregation. In Sipho's actions, turning and running away from the jersey quickly, it is abundantly clear that the Springboks and rugby are the last thing black South Africans want to be associated with. Yet, by the end of the film, through a combination of herculean efforts from both Pienaar and Mandela, social division loses traction in favor of social cohesion. Yet again, Eastwood uses Sipho to represent this stark contrast. Sipho is portrayed secretly trying to listen to the broadcast of the rugby World Cup final from outside the arena on the policemen's radio. When the Springboks win, he is seen celebrating with gusto-no longer are the team and the sport a source of tension and friction. Additionally, as a symbolic representative of all black children, Eastwood also uses him to comment on the fact that children such as Sipho are the hope for the country's reunified future and continued social harmony. South Africa's unity is therefore depicted as being contingent on healing, forgiveness, and shifts of individual attitudes.

As the Springbok's achievement is closely documented throughout Invictus, movie viewers learn that their victory is the common source of gratification and marks a big win for social stability. Despite being the topic of controversy in national media as 'an inexperienced team with a history of coming up short in big matches' and a team who did not 'deserve to wear the hallowed green and gold', Eastwood depicts the Springboks as toppling this negative misconception through the lead up to and focus on the World Cup final. Through this process, the Springboks find it in themselves to be the source of the nation's unity. Additionally, they also grow to be accepting and inclusive of blacks. As the film focuses on their training and interactions as a team, movie views see visual cues of them representing South Africa through wearing the country's colors. Despite these outward appearances, the predominantly white Afrikaner team often butted heads with Pienaar's initiatives to champion social cohesion, flagrantly refusing to learn the new South African anthem or even consider playing rugby with black children in impoverished townships. This idea of being proud to represent the nation is thus rendered even more striking still when Eastwood depicts the Springbok team, unashamed to sing the national anthem before the World Cup final. As Eastwood uses a low angle to frame this particular moment, the athletes seem more statuesque, distinguished, and heroic in observing the nationally significant pre-game ritual. This idea of the team being a common source of national unity and delight is repeated in the victory scene. Eastwood cuts to quick shots of different groups of South Africans, of all ethnicities, ages, and locations, united in their joy at the team's win. Therefore, Eastwood communicates that previously racially segregated enemies come together in proud celebration of an important national sporting event.

Moreover, Eastwood's construction of Mandela's venerable and respected character reveals that it was his particularly persuasive and effective leadership which was pivotal in helping South Africa feel a sense of unity. For instance, Mandela's distinctive and erudite speeches that are peppered throughout the movie, as well as quick and witty quips, give viewers hints pertaining to his goal for sweeping change. Despite being President, Mandela is portrayed as constantly building solidarity and rapport with his citizens, rather than keeping his distance. This is evident in the way he refers the county as his 'very large family. 42 million'. This idea of a family creates the impression that Mandela cares for each citizen personally like a father and desires for them to be reunited. Furthermore, his highly personable nature is revealed as he goes in person to motivate the Springboks while they train in the lead up to the World Cup. His attention to detail and determination to win them over could not be clearer as he memorizes the Springboks by name and face, even being able to notice when Chester was absent in training. Mandela's closeness with the people is also mirrored in the clothes he wears. Before the World Cup final, he is seen wearing the Springbok jersey, with a proud and satisfied smile on his face. This is a deviation from the sharp business suit he is often depicted wearing. This powerful and influential political leader's decision to support the Springboks, and treating everyone like his family members, thus helped the country to repair their broken relationships and stabilize society in the long run.

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In conclusion, Invictus demonstrates the journey and toil it took for South Africa to feel a sense of patriotism, togetherness, and joy. Throughout the film, Eastwood uses the transformation of minor characters, like Sipho, and the changes in the Springbok team, to allude to the ways in which forgiveness of past hurts is crucial to their present-day success. Additionally, without the inspirational input, determination, and political ambition of Mandela, protagonist of the film, there arguably would not be anything to be proud of. 

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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A Theme Of Unity And Pride In The Film Invictus. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from
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