->''It matters not how strait the gate,\\
How charged with punishments the scroll,\\
I am the master of my fate:\\
I am the captain of my soul.''
->--'''William Ernest Henley''', ''Invictus''
''Invictus'' is a 2009 film directed by Creator/ClintEastwood, starring Creator/MorganFreeman and Creator/MattDamon.
February 11, 1990 -- Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) finally walks free after twenty-seven years behind bars. Four years later, he became the first black president of post-apartheid UsefulNotes/SouthAfrica, bringing with him a platform of reconciliation between the white minority, who benefited the most from decades of racial segregation, and the black majority, who in turn suffered the most.
Mending South Africa's fractured identity, however, is easier said than done. Whites and blacks still distrust each other, and its national rugby team, the mostly-white Springboks, still bear the stigma of a bygone era. Not only were they a team of underachievers, but black audiences tend to root for anyone they play against. And after an embarrassing loss to England, the reorganized South African Sports Committee decides to disband the Springboks as relics of the apartheid era. Mandela, however, had other plans.
Still seeing some potential with the Springboks, Mandela personally summons its captain, twenty-seven year old François Pienaar (Matt Damon), and places upon him a herculean task: to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup, to be hosted next year by South Africa.
Even as Pienaar encourages the Springboks to train harder, win more hearts, and make the new South Africa proud, Mandela casts a great gamble by publicly endorsing the team to the black majority as a step forward towards reconciliation. And as the clock ticks toward May 25, when the first fixture takes off at Cape Town, two unlikely allies must stand together if they want to see South Africa transcend race, even for just a moment.
And yes, South African rugby is SeriousBusiness. If you're not into big-league sports, then it may hard to believe that the future of South Africa can hinge on one sports team. Heck, Mandela's cabinet has trouble with the idea. If you ''are'' into big-league sports and can step back for a moment, then it makes slightly more sense.
Based on John Carlin's ''Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation''.
!!This film provides examples of:
* TheNineties: Set at the beginning of the decade.
* UsefulNotes/TheApartheidEra: The movie starts at the very end.
* BatmanGambit: The film (and the nonfiction book it is based on) essentially tells of Mandela's high-risk gamble to bring South Africa closer to reconciliation through what many considered a relic of its apartheid past.
* ClimacticMusic: Thousands of South African fans enthusiastically singing [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shosholoza "Shosholoza"]] during the World Cup final.
* DavidVersusGoliath: Everybody vs. the apparently unstoppable Jonah Lomu.
** TruthInTelevision. Look up some footage of him against England in that world cup.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: South Africa wins the tournament, and the film ends with Mandela, having personally handed the trophy to Pienaar, being driven away through the streets of Johannesburg, even as he watches South Africans of all colors rejoicing.
* EnemyOfMyEnemy: Many black South Africans associate the Springboks with apartheid and therefore don't like them. When they go to rugby matches, they root for whatever team is playing against the Springboks. Mandela witnesses this happening in person at a rugby match and mentions to his staff that he and his fellow prison inmates used to do the same thing when they listened to rugby on the radio. Of course, such attitudes have changed dramatically by the end of the film.
* EpiphanyTherapy: Pienaar and his rugby team visiting Mandela's prison cell.
* ForegoneConclusion: It's [[BasedOnATrueStory based on a true story]], after all.
* HuddleShot: Several.
* ICouldaBeenAContender: Pienaar's wife comments that the sports reporter who won't stop ripping into the Springboks team is just bitter because the team was boycotted when he played for them, so they never competed internationally.
* LiteraryAllusionTitle: The title comes from William Ernest Henley's poem, which Mandela recites in the movie.
* NotableOriginalMusic: "9,000 Days Invictus" and "Colorblind", both written by Creator/ClintEastwood and performed by the South African ''a cappella'' group Overtone.
* OohMeAccentsSlipping: Morgan Freeman sounds not at all like anybody from South Africa, particularly Nelson Mandela.
* OurPresidentsAreDifferent: Mandela is President Personable. He heaps praise and compliments on everyone around him, buys a bodyguard a box of English toffees while on a state trip to the UK because he happened to hear that the man liked them, and insists that his protection detail always smile, even when shoving people away during crowd control.
* RedemptionQuest: The entire country.
* RugbyIsSlaughter: Averted. To the extent that rugby is depicted at all (much of the film focuses on the social divide in South Africa, with rugby being a metaphor for Mandela's quest to unite the new "Rainbow Nation"), it is depicted as a serious, full-contact sport which occasionally features injuries, rather than an all-out bloodbath. In other words, it's depicted accurately.
* SeriousBusiness: Rugby. Several shots show deserted streets and bars overcrowded with people watching the big game.
** Mandela is seen working around matters of state -- trade relations with Asia, for instance -- to deal with Springbok-related matters or watch their games, even before the big ones.
*** In South Africa, [[TruthInTelevision it really is]].
** And there was the fact that South Africa was not a favorite in the World Cup, yet in 1995 they did end up winning it. The fact that they were the host country made it all the more important -- the whole world was watching the newly-"reconciled" country.
* SideBet: Mandela and New Zealand PM Bolger have a bet on the final match. Bolger first offers all his country's sheep against all the gold of South Africa. Mandela chuckles and instead suggests the wager be a nice case of wine.
* SidelongGlanceBiopic: The story of Nelson Mandela and post-Apartheid reconstruction in South Africa... as seen by the national rugby team.
* SloMo: Seen a few times.
* SpotOfTea: "The English have given us many things, including Rugby, but afternoon tea... that is the greatest."
* TeethClenchedTeamwork: The black and white members of Mandela's bodyguard team. Eventually however, they get over it.
* ThoseTwoGuys: Two of the bodyguards appear recurrently, showing the evolution of feelings between blacks and whites (from hostility, to tolerance, to a budding friendship).
* TokenMinority: Chester Williams was the only black player for the Springboks in 1995. This is actually TruthInTelevision. At one point, when the conversation gets a bit heated and political, eyes in the locker room turn to him, only for him to deferentially say that he just plays ball, not politics.
* WhereItAllBegan: Before the final against New Zealand, Mandela brings the Springboks to Robben Island, the notorious penal colony where he spent his first 18 years in jail. Pienaar and the rest of the team are amazed at how Mandela could survive years in nigh-inhumane conditions and still come out extending a hand of forgiveness to the very people who made his life a living hell.
* WorfHadTheFlu: In real life, the All Blacks were largely suffering from food poisoning. Conspiracy theories abound about a fictional "Suzy the Waitress".