The idea that sports can be used as a means of unifying people is the central theme of the movie “Invictus.” This idea was also employed by Knox’s African culture club Harambee, which played the movie at Kresge Recital Hall last Friday.
“We wanted to show a film that would show the struggles of the continent,” club president and junior Celestina Agyekum said. “The movie brings together different races and educates people about South Africa.”
The movie stars Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as François Pienaar, the captain of the South African rugby team in the 1990s. It centers around the problems that Mandela faced upon becoming elected president of South Africa, including crime, poverty and uniting a nation that for years had been separated under an apartheid regime.
Mandela uses rugby, both in the movie and in his real-life presidency, as a means of unifying both black and white citizens of South Africa. Even though many of the black citizens feel that the rugby team, the Springboks, represent a separated and apartheid nation, Mandela supports them to avoid alienating those who support them. He meets with Pienaar to deliver the subliminal message that if the Springboks are able to win the World Cup, it will have the effect of bringing together the many people of South Africa who watch rugby.
One need not understand much about the game of rugby or be much of a sports fan to fully enjoy “Invictus.” The components of the movie are compelling enough without the actual portrayal of the sport itself, although sports fans will delight in the last 20 minutes of the film in which the Springboks are locked in a close match against the New Zealand All-Blacks. The movie seamlessly weaves together a story of political reform and sport, with the undeniably uplifting ending characteristic of a sports underdog story.
The movie also provided a helpful insight into issues central to Africa, which is essentially what Harambee intended in showing the movie. “We are an incredibly diverse group of people,” Agyekum said, “and we are very into helping people understand our culture.”