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'Invictus': the power of sport

The alliance between a politician and a sportsman

A historic rugby match

Mandela, a legendary figure

dimarts, 26 de gener de 2010
The story of a rugby match that changed the destiny of a country, a true story that shows the ability of sport to unite a diverse range of people. We are talking about 'Invictus', one of the most eagerly awaited films of recent months, which opens here this Friday (29th January).

The action takes place in South Africa in 1995, only a year after the first multiracial elections in the country's history. The election had been won by the black political leader Nelson Mandela, a symbol of the struggle against apartheid, the racial segregation system imposed by the white minority for many years. The elections marked the end of this abominable system.

Nevertheless, the wounds of so many years of apartheid are far from healed. There is mistrust between the black majority and the white minority. Against the backdrop of this situation, Mandela is trying to use a sporting event (the Rugby World Cup, hosted by South Africa) to unite the country.

This is the political context of 'Invictus', directed by Clint Eastwood. Morgan Freeman plays Mandela and Matt Damon plays the role of François Pienaar, the South African rugby captain. 'Invictus' is based on a book called 'Playing the Enemy' ('El factor humà' published by Campana in Catalan), by the journalist John Carlin, who was the South Africa correspondent of the English newspaper 'The Independent' from 1989 to 1995.

The alliance between a politician and a sportsman

+ In 'Invictus', Morgan Freeman plays Mandela and Matt Damon plays Pienaar.
For black South Africans, the colour green on the country's rugby jersey was a symbol of apartheid. Regardless of this, Nelson Mandela was convinced that the Rugby World Cup was a unique opportunity to heal wounds and to unite whites and blacks through sport. Mandela told team captain François Pienaar about his idea, and Pienaar immediately realised the importance that winning the World Cup could have.

A historic rugby match

+ 'Invictus' is based on the John Carlin book 'Playing the Enemy' ('El factor humà' in Catalan).
South Africa, the host country, was in no way the favourite to win the World Cup. However, the side managed to make it to the final, where their opponents were the mighty New Zealand All Blacks. The match ended in a 9-all draw, meaning it went to extra time. In the end the Springboks (the South African side's nickname) won 15-12. Wearing a team jersey, Mandela presented the trophy to captain François Pienaar to the delight of the 65,000-strong crowd, made up of both blacks and whites, that filled Johannesburg's Ellis Park Stadium.

Mandela, a legendary figure

+ Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison.
'Invictus' testifies to the political skill and persuasive powers of Nelson Mandela, one of the most admired politicians of the 20th century, who left politics in 1999. After 27 years in prison, Mandela guided the country towards democracy, inspired by a spirit of reconciliation, not of revenge. Today, despite the many problems it faces, the Republic of South Africa is a consolidated democracy that is seen as an emerging power.



  • Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, three years after his release from prison. He is now 91 years old.
  • In the 1995 Rugby World Cup final, Joel Stransky scored all of South Africa's points. In 'Invictus', Stransky is played by Scott Eastwood, son of the director Clint Eastwood.


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'Trailer' de 'Invictus'.
Cronologia de Sud-àfrica.
Esbós biogràfic de Nelson Mandela.
I també...
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