Building a film story about a momentous moment for a people is a great challenge. To live up to the dreams of its protagonists (some with a media presence and others from the intimacy of anonymity) and to be able to share it with an audience beyond the borders is almost a humanitarian action given that thousands of people only relate to “other worlds” thanks to the big screen. Invictus comes to intervene right in that enterprise; he recovers the story of Nelson Mandela, leader of the ethnic liberation of South Africa, of his attempts once elected president to guarantee the end of the apartheid racial exclusion system and the construction of a democracy without discrimination on the basis of skin colour or religion.
Not a simple task to perform and no less to film. Clint Eastwood, a veteran actor, producer and director from the United States, chooses to focus his film on Mandela’s strategy, played by a notable Morgan Freeman, to use the 1995 Rubgy championship, in which his country was host, to bring blacks and whites closer together.
Rugby and the South African conflict
Mandela introduces a political science manual play by reappropriating the symbols of the old racist regime (the anthem and the Springbox team) for his idea of South Africa without racial differences. Matt Damon, well-performing, plays the captain of the rugby team who is dazzled by Mandela’s wisdom and charisma and is committed to trying to understand the new president’s struggle and his move to overturn the apartheid laws (segregation in transport, cities, marriages, taxes, etc.), leaving aside his imprint as the greatest exponent of South African white values.
But as we said, this is not an easy task. There are very difficult social moments to catch by the camera eye of a foreign director, even if he had a genuine vocation to represent reality and good tools to do so. The ways of looking, saying, feeling and representing are strongly conditioned by symbolic and material relations between the different social groups, and the film director is not alien to this social game.