Invictus


I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

This is a quote from the poem Invictus, by British poet William Ernest Henley. I am usually not a fan of poems, but I came across this one when watching the recently released film, Invictus.


Invictus, the movie, is about how Nelson Mandela used the South African rugby team (the Springboks) to unite his people after the fall of the apartheid. It is a great movie, but what hit me was the above poem. Whilst imprisoned for his fighting against the racial discrimination, he wrote this poem on a piece of paper. According to the film, Mandela handed a copy of the same poem to the captain of the Springboks, François Pineaar, before the finals of the 1995 Rugby World Cup. (In reality the captain was given The Man In The Arena by Theodore Roosevelt.)

The movie is quite touching and will probably have you singing to the tune of World in Union at the end. I assume that it is accurate for the most part, except for the dramatisations and the above inaccuracy. At one point, a jet flies low over the stadium before the beginning of the finals. This actually did hapen, and the security was notified well ahead, but according to the film the presidential security had no idea about it. That’s hollywood for you. There were many such dramatised situations, from the very start of the film, just to give a sense of fear to the viewer, but nothing actually happens to Mandela or the people around him.

Nelson Mandela is potrayed by Morgan Freeman, and the Springboks captain François Pineaar by Matt Damon, whom I feel are quite well suited for the roles. Please watch the film if you have the chance, because it will have you on the edge of your seat to watch the finals of the 1995 Rugby World Cup (of course South Africa won).

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