Invictus is one of the best movies of 2009 that absolutely nobody went to see.
The title of the movie comes from a poem first published in 1888. The poem inspired Nelson Mandela during the 27 years he spent in prison for terrorist activities, and kept his spirit strong so that he may endure. We at Cracked are not surprised by this at all, because this happens to be the single manliest poem of all time.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
The author of the poem has had his head kicked in by a rough, unforgiving life, and yet he refuses to back down, cry out, or bow his head, because he is a man's man. We would not be surprised if someone told us that the poem was actually written by Staff Sgt. Max Fightmaster.
In reality, the poem was written by William Ernest Henley in 1875; it was written while he was lying in a hospital bed, because tuberculosis of the bone had forced doctors to amputate his fucking leg, and he was in danger of losing the second one as well. After writing this poem, he proceeded to kick life in the balls with his remaining foot and live actively for another 28 years, as well as be the inspiration for Long John Silver in Treasure Island.
Also, look at that beard.
These factors taken together have convinced us at Cracked to proclaim Henley the World's Manliest Poet, well deserving of having his work narrated by Morgan Freeman.
So the question of the day is: does the movie live up to the poem/poet?
Invictus is the story of Nelson Mandela in 1994, when he became the President of South Africa after being exonerated from jail. He inherits a country with racial difficulties, economic troubles, and all sorts of other problems. Mandela decides that the best way to fix his country up is to make sure they have a kick-ass rugby team.
There is no problem that won't go away if you tackle it hard enough.
Mandela, who is Clearly Just Morgan Freeman whenever you look at him on screen, realizes that if he can get the South Africa Springboks to win the Rugby World Cup, the entire country will rally together behind them and racism in the country will diminish. The all-white rugby team has a single black man on it, so it counts.
Clearly Freeman calls up the captain of the Springboks, Matt Damon With an Accent, and tells him no pressure, but if they don't win the World Cup the country will probably collapse. Damon With an Accent takes up the challenge and takes his team on a transformative journey that really is just a way for you to enjoy two hours of rugby players knocking the shit out of each other and still feel cultured at the end of it.
"I say, who's up for a rousing game of Kick the Shit Out of Each Other?"
At the same time, we have a subplot about Clearly Freeman's bodyguards, Black Cops and White Cops, trying to get along with humorous results. There's also a message in there about racism toward both blacks and whites, but for most of the movie it's really just about a black bodyguard yelling at some people to do their job. Then they cut away to a rugby match, leaving us scratching our heads a little bit at what just happened.
We won't spoil the ending, except to say that not only is it obvious what the outcome is, but since the movie is based on a true story all the information is available in a history text, or on Wikipedia. They even have some information that the movie left out, such as the very inspirational alleged poisoning of rugby players leading up to the championship round. Truly a testament to the power of the human spirit.
Pictured above: inspiration.
So does the film live up to the manly poem that preceded it? The poem Invictus is about the indomitable power of the human spirit; a man continues to suffer the thousand slings and arrows of life, showing no fear and never succumbing to his misfortune. The movie Invictus is about Nelson Mandela doing exactly that, and then vicariously extracting revenge by beating the shit out of the world's rugby teams, sometimes in slow motion. We'll let you be the judge on this one.