By Paul Morgan, editor of Rugby World Magazine
I often feel privileged in my job and one of those times came last week when I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to see the new Clint Eastwood movie about the way Nelson Mandela used rugby to unite South Africa, after he was elected as President in the early 1990s – Invictus.
In fact I was lucky enough to see it before Francois Pienaar, who is one of the stars of the film, albeit he is played by Matt Damon.
It opens in America on 11 December and my only criticism of the film is that it doesn’t open in Great Britain until 4 February, just in time for the Six Nations I think.
It is a sensational movie and for someone like me who loves not only the Mandela story but also rugby it is the perfect film.
For those who don’t know Morgan Freeman players Madiba, as he is called in the film, and puts in a performance that will surely see him nominated for an Oscar. He was as he told us “expected” to play Mandela at some point. This is an incredible portrayal of an incredible man.
And the great thing for the game of rugby is that Mandela uses rugby to unite a divided nation, after he is elected.
Unlike the current British government (or the one before) Mandela appreciates how much sport means to people, and how powerful a tool it can be.
The film starts with South Africa’s defeat to England in 1994 and the black people in the crowd supporting England. it puzzles Mandela and he sets about bringing Pienaar on board for his dream for South Africa to win the World Cup in 1995.
The film could not depict rugby in a better way and shows it for what it is – the greatest team sport in the world. It will I predict be one of the greatest things to happen to the game. Think of it! Millions of people – many who have hardly heard of rugby – going to the cinema to see a film that shows what a great sport rugby is.
There is a lot of rugby action in the film, which lasts around two and a half hours. In fact there is 18 minutes of action from the final itself as South Africa set about halting Jonah Lomu, who is played by Zak Feaunati.
The action is superbly done by top-class players. This is not Escape to Victory!
I can’t wait for it to come out in Britain, so everyone can see it!
If you have any questions about the film ask them here and I will answer them.