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Invictus (2009)Invictus (2009)

Director Clint Eastwood comes full circle in this inspirational bio-pic of Nelson Mandela; he spent his acting career dispensing vigilante justice, and now turns from revenge to reconciliation. Morgan Freeman, with a remarkable African lilt to his voice, portrays Mandela, who was released in 1990 after spending twenty-seven years of hard labor in prison. As South Africa's first fully democratically-elected president (1994–1999), Mandela faced the combustible combination of black anger and white fear. "He can be elected," ran a newspaper headline, "but can he govern?" In addition to his personal charisma, Mandela used South Africa's all-white rugby team, the Springboks, as a sign and symbol around which to unify the nation. Matt Damon stars as Francis Pienaar, the team captain, who in a parallel challenge of leadership convinced the rugby players to take on that role in their 1995 World Rugby Cup play. The film blends serious political history with (almost) hokey sports drama. The title is based on the 1875 poem of the same name (which in Latin means "unconquered") by the English poet William Ernest Henley, which helped Mandela endure prison, and the last line of which reads, "I am the captain of my soul."

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