Invictus Summary and Analysis of Part 5


The New Zealand team sings along with the national anthem, and everyone braces themselves for the South African national anthem, unsure of whether the Springboks team will actually sing it. When it begins, they all do. Everyone cheers with pride.

The game begins. The New Zealand team does their Maori war dance, as the South African team watches calmly. The All Blacks play very well, and Francois calls together his team to strategize about how to deal with their best player, Lomu.

During the next play, a fight breaks out between the two teams. The referee breaks them up as the crowds cheer from the stands. In the next play, the Springboks get a penalty and the All Blacks score.

Eventually, the Springboks manage to score on the All Blacks team. The game heats up, and the score is 6 to 3, with New Zealand in the lead, but the Springboks begin to catch up and the game is tied at 9 to 9. The game goes into overtime. With seven minutes on the clock, Francois pulls his teammates together and urges them to listen to the crowd singing for their country, and to play defensively. The team eventually manages to score, earning extra time on the game. With only a few minutes remaining, the Springboks score and take the lead, 15 to 12. We see Mandela's daughter cheering for the team, while watching at home. They win.

In a huddle, Francois asks Chester to lead the team in a prayer of thankfulness. They greet the cheering crowds, as joyous celebration breaks out. Mandela comes down onto the field and greets his team joyously. The sportscaster Johan de Villiers interviews Francois and tells him that they won due to the support of 63,000 South Africans. "We didn't need the support of 63,000 South Africans," Francois says, correcting him, "We had the support of 43 million South Africans."

Francois and Mandela shake hands, thanking one another for what they have each done for South Africa. Mandela hands him the trophy and Francois holds it up triumphantly.

Later, we see celebration in the streets, as Mandela is driven in a car. He takes off his sunglasses and tells the driver that there is no need to hurry. "I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul," Mandela thinks, invoking the poem, "Invictus."


The national anthem is the one element of South African culture that the Springboks team refuses to engage with throughout the film. However, right before the game against New Zealand, all of the players sing the anthem on the field, much to the surprise of many of the people in the stands. The moment of singing the national anthem, which the players have previously characterized as belonging to terrorists (meaning black South Africans) is symbolic of the improving unity of the country, the fact that the players are willing to evolve and put away their prejudices in order to feel connected to their country.

The final section of the film is mostly devoted to the crucial game between the New Zealand All Blacks team and the Springboks. In a certain way, this game is symbolic of the entire fate of South Africa. The fact that the Springboks team has gotten so far already in spite of the odds is representative of the fact that unity and nationalism has bolstered them in their sportsmanship. Thus, their ability to beat the New Zealand team, to win it all, would be a tremendous feat for South Africa, because it would represent the fact that unity between Afrikaners and black South Africans is necessary for victory in sports.

The film moves around and shows different people watching the big game, in order to show just how important it is in the lives of South Africans, and what it means for the country. In one moment we see Mandela watching, then Francois' mother and his family's maid, then a little boy listening to the game on the radio outside the stadium. This collage of different spectators shows the diversity of South Africa itself and the fact that the game is bringing together many disparate types of people in order to cheer for the same thing.

The climax of the film occurs when the Springboks win the game against New Zealand in the final moments of overtime. The symbolic win that Mandela believes the country so needs comes true and the South African people are united by the athletic victory. The film frames this event as sentimental and momentous, a moment of joy that is felt by all South Africans in the same way. Director Clint Eastwood and writer Anthony Peckham eschew nuance in favor of un-ambivalent joyous outburst—a moment of full, unbridled, nationalistic celebration.

While the film's plot concerns the unity of an entire nation, it also looks at the ways this unity is brought about by the confidence and clarity of one man, Nelson Mandela. The film ends with Mandela in the car as it drives through the mobbed streets following the South African victory. He is proud of what has happened, and again thinks of the poem, "Invictus," which gave him so much courage during his time in prison. The poem is about one man keeping firm to his beliefs and to himself in the face of great obstacles. Mandela is the prime example of someone who has done just that, and who has inspired resilience and determination in his associates, all in the service of the greater good.