Directed by AFI Life Achievement Award honoree Clint Eastwood, INVICTUS features the legendary onscreen talents of another recipient of the highest honor for a career in film – Morgan Freeman.
AFI Movie Club: INVICTUS
DID YOU KNOW? INVICTUS is based on the 2008 book “Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation” by John Carlin about the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. The Latin title translates to “undefeated” and also refers to an 1875 poem by William Ernest Henley which is recited in the film.
DID YOU KNOW? INVICTUS was shot in South Africa in the spring of 2009. The final scene was filmed on location in Johannesburg at Ellis Park Stadium, the same venue in which the 1995 Rugby World Cup final took place.
DID YOU KNOW? Matt Damon was trained extensively by Chester Williams, the only Black team member on the South African rugby team the Springboks, whose underdog story is featured in the film.
DID YOU KNOW? Directed by Clint Eastwood, INVICTUS was a family affair that included two of the legendary filmmaker’s sons. His eldest son Kyle Eastwood contributed music to the film’s soundtrack while his son Scott Eastwood appeared in the film as flyhalf Joel Stransky.
DID YOU KNOW? Made for $50-$60 million, INVICTUS grossed more than twice that amount at the box office. It also marked the largest opening to date for a movie about rugby.
DID YOU KNOW? INVICTUS was honored with two Academy Award® nominations – for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Morgan Freeman) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Matt Damon). This marked Freeman’s fifth Oscar® nod. He won Best Supporting Actor for another Clint Eastwood movie, MILLION DOLLAR BABY.
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The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions
- Were you aware of the racist, institutional segregation policies of apartheid before seeing this movie? What did you learn from the story about real–life events, and how does this change your perception of racial divides today?
- What was at stake for Nelson Mandela to advocate for racial reconciliation in South Africa, and why was he adamant about bridging the divide?
- INVICTUS shows how sports can unify a nation fraught with racial and civil unrest. What is it about the underdog team—the Springboks—that wins over the hearts of all South Africans? Have you rallied behind a team before because you felt included in a larger community?
- In INVICTUS, Springbok captain François Pienaar and his teammates visit the actual prison cell that was inhabited by Nelson Mandela for 27 years before he was released to become president four years later. Describe this scene and its impact on you. What does this tell you about Mandela and his mission to unite South Africa?
- Rugby is a sport that may be unfamiliar to some Americans, but it resembles American football. What are some of the similarities and differences you noticed about the two sports, and what might those discrepancies represent about the U.S.?
- How would you rate INVICTUS?
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