Was Invictus Really True to Life?

Clint Eastwood’s anti-apartheid movie, Invictus, has been out for a while now and you can find it in most stores and movie channels off Homepage. It tells the story of Nelson Mandela’s leadership in South Africa and how he used rugby to unite his country and minimize racial tensions. No one can deny the inspirational nature of the film, but is the story it tells a true one?

During his incarceration, Mandela routinely rooted against South Africa’s rugby team, the Springboks, because the primarily white team symbolized apartheid. When Mandela was elected President, he knew that if he supported the Springboks he could gain the support of the white South Africans and close the racial divide that was created by apartheid.

Invictus is, in large part, historically accurate. President Mandela did support the Springboks rugby team to garner support of white South Africans and to try and unite the country of South Africa. Mandela also sought out the Springbok’s captain, Francois Pienaar, to aid in his efforts to win a World Cup and unite the citizens of South Africa. While Invictus is primarily a true story, there are minor divergences from the truth. One example is the final scene in the movie where Mandela is shown giving Pienaar a copy of the poem Invictus, which sustained Mandela during his imprisonment. In actuality, Mandela gave Pienaar a copy of The Man in the Arena by Theodore Roosevelt.

While there are small historical inaccuracies in the movie Invictus, overall it is an accurate portrayal of the early days of Mandela’s presidency and the importance of the Springboks in helping him unite South Africa.

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