Invictus Summary and Analysis of Part 4


At a dinner after the victory, Mandela dances with a woman. He tells her how beautiful she is, and talks about the fact that his father was a polygamist. "As you know, I am not, but when I look at you, I envy my father," he says, and she giggles.

We then see Francois and other Afrikaners drinking and celebrating the win. He tells his teammates they are going for a coach's run the following morning at 6 AM, and the scene shifts to their run the following morning.

They board a boat with their respective wives and go on a cruise around the harbor, which eventually ends up at the prison where Mandela was kept. They go on a tour of the prison, and a guard shows Francois and his teammate's Mandela's former cell. Francois looks at the meager cell and even closes the door to feel what it would have felt like to be in such tight confinement.

Suddenly, Francois has a vision of Mandela in the cell, and Mandela recites the poem "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley, a poem about resilience and keeping the faith even in the bleakest of times. He then has a vision of Mandela working on a chain gang.

Hendrick and Linga arrive at Mandela's house to take him on his morning walk, but they find him collapsed on the pavement outside, unconscious. They rush to his side and bring him to the hospital. There, the doctor tells his employees that Mandela is exhausted and needs complete rest. "No phone calls, no visitors, no meetings, no politics!" the doctor prescribes, but his employees think that this will be impossible.

We see the Springboks practicing on the field, with Chester now returned. At the next game in the tournament, they play well yet again, with Chester scoring a number of points against the Samoan team. In the middle of the game, a fight breaks out, but by the end, the Springboks win fairly.

It rains hard on the day of a semifinal match between South Africa and France. Meanwhile, Mandela takes his meeting with representatives from Taiwan. The rainy game is muddy and dramatic, but the Springboks end up winning this one as well. Mandela's assistant pulls him out of the Taiwan meeting to tell him about the victory, and informs him that once the match between New Zealand and England is decided the next day, the Springboks will know who their next opponent is. He tells the assistant to make sure his schedule is free for the entire match, and she agrees.

At home, Mandela watches the New Zealand versus England game, and asks Brenda if they should do a little work while they watch. She tells him to enjoy the rugby and leaves the room. New Zealand's team, the All Blacks, play excellently and are clearly better than the English team. Outside Mandela's house, his security team plays a small game of rugby, and Mandela watches. Mandela tells Brenda he would like a full report on the All Blacks team. "This rugby, it's still strictly political?" Brenda says, knowingly.

Francois brings his family members tickets to the game, which they thank him for. His father then tells him they need one more ticket, for the maid, who smiles at them gratefully.

In a car, Mandela's friend briefs the president on the fact that the All Blacks are an exceptional rugby team and have beat many of the best teams by a lot, setting international records. "They seem unstoppable," Mandela says, and alludes to the fact that they do a Maori war dance before the match. Mandela wants to figure out how they can win, suggesting that "this country is hungry for greatness."

The night before the game, Francois' wife brings him a protein shake, and he tells her that he's not worried about tomorrow's match, since its outcome is already decided. "I was thinking about how you spend 30 years in a tiny cell and come out ready to forgive the people who put you there," Francois says, still thinking about Mandela's bravery during his prison sentence.

Jason and Etienne stare at the rugby field the night before the game. Jason talks about the fact that he hates rugby and he just wants to get Mandela through the game safely.

We see the Springboks team going for a run before the game. Jason addresses his security team about the security risks involved in this final match. Fans gather at Ellis Park Stadium, ready to cheer for South Africa. Francois looks out at the packed stadium, nervous about what they are about to do, then goes back to his team.

A jet flies near the stadium, and its captain tells his co-captain that he takes "full responsibility" for what happens next. This seems to suggest that he might commit a terrorist act with the jet, and when he sees the jet from the stadium, Jason becomes nervous. The jet flies low to the ground above the stadium, but not for a terroristic purpose; rather, it is in order to display the words "Good luck Springboks!" painted on the bottom of the jet. The crowd erupts in cheers.

As the whistle blows, the Springboks make their way to the field, standing next to the All Blacks team in the waiting pen. The players all run out onto the field to boisterous cheers. Soon after, Mandela comes out onto the field himself, smiling and waving in a rugby jersey. He wishes each member of the team good luck. He then shakes the hands of the members of the All Blacks team, before leaving the field.


Francois is all the more inspired by Mandela and his motivational project when he visits the prison where Mandela was confined. In the very cell in which they kept Mandela, Francois has a vision of the president, sitting on his small mat, and reciting the poem "Invictus," by William Ernest Henley. The poem is about resilience and never losing hope, even in the face of great struggle. Francois' visit to the prison is a spiritual experience, in which he looks plainly at the strength and bravery that Mandela is modeling for him and his teammates.

Part of what makes Mandela so inspiring is the fact that he has ascended to such great heights after sinking so low for such a long time. After 27 years of confinement and hard labor in prison, he has emerged as an unflappable and poised leader of a new Africa. What might have crushed another man's spirit has only strengthened Mandela's, and it is this very strength of character that so compels Francois to listen to his wisdom as a leader.

In spite of his immense strength, Mandela falls prey to his own hard-working spirit when he collapses from exhaustion on the pavement in front of his house. Part of Mandela's strength as a leader is the fact that he is willing to work so hard for his country, but this has taken a toll on his body. The doctor insists that he take a complete break from all of his obligations, lest his condition worsen, but his employees are doubtful that the president will be willing to do so.

Additionally, the Springboks are about to face a giant challenge in their match with the seemingly unbeatable All Black team from New Zealand. The All Blacks have not only won every game, but have set new records for points scored in a single match. Part of their success is due to their performing a Maori war dance before each match, a show of unity and togetherness that some say decides the outcome of the game before it has even started.

Through everything, Mandela's greatest strength is his equanimity and far-reaching sense of compassion. Before the game against the invincible All Black team, Mandela wishes each member of the Springboks team good luck, before then shaking the hands of the members of the opposing team. It is an unusual move, to wish luck to all of the players, but it is emblematic of Mandela's ethic throughout the film, to send compassion and goodwill to all men in order to make them feel good and be their best selves.