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How does Clint Eastwood, director of the film, Invictus, use the South African rugby team (the Springboks) as a vehicle to bring a troubled nation together? Essay

How does Clint Eastwood, director of the film, Invictus, use the South African rugby team (the Springboks) as a vehicle to bring a troubled nation together? Clint Eastwood shows the change in the nation of South Africa in Invictus, using the Springboks as a vehicle. He starts the film with large amounts of separation, followed by the steady change in the middle of the movie, and finishing with the nation combined. In the beginning of the film, Clint Eastwood shows how separated black and white people are and how they do not get along, due to the change of the government and the Springboks.

Because of the change in government, Nelson Mandela’s staff started to pack their things up as if they were leaving their jobs, but Nelson Mandela stops them and says, ‘The past is the past, we look to the future now.’ Nelson Mandela has noticed the struggle between the two sides of the nation, and is willing to make a change. The nation is very separated at the beginning of the film, and Nelson Mandela thought rugby would be able to bring the two sides back together.

To do this, Clint Eastwood made the start of the movie seem as if most South Africans did not like the Springboks and to make it seem like there would be some difficulty in bringing the nation together through the Springboks. Nelson Mandela said that, while he is in prison, he would cheer for any team who were versing the Springboks, encouraging the fact that South Africans did not like them. The Springboks were not liked at the beginning of the film because people thought that they still represented discrimination. An example of this happened during the film when the church is giving out some clothes to children. One child is handed a Springbok jersey but he turns it down and runs away, due to the chance of other children beating him up. After the child is gone, the ladies in the church say, “Why won’t he take it?”

‘If he wears it, the others will beat him up.’
“Because the Springboks are playing so badly?”

‘No. Because, for them, the Springboks still represent apartheid.’ – Ladies from the church. In the beginning of Invictus, everyone is very separate and many people dislike the Springboks. By starting the film like this, Clint Eastwood has set the story up for the audience to notice discrete change in the nation. In the film Invictus, Clint Eastwood showed the combining of the black and white people in South Africa.

One thing that Eastwood made the Springboks do to bring the two sides of the nation together was to get them to host a coaching clinic for some children. At first the Springboks are not happy to do the coaching clinics, but do so anyway. At the start of the coaching clinic, all of the children race over to Chester and cheer for him, not paying any attention to the rest of the team. The Springboks begin to teach the children how to play rugby, teaching them throwing skills and how to kick goals. After a while, the children begin to open up to the rest of the team, and start to enjoy the game. Clint Eastwood did this to show how the nation began to come together through the Springboks. In the middle of the movie, it becomes more noticeable that the two sides of the nation are coming together because of the Springboks.

Clint Eastwood used the Springboks to bring the nation together by gradually showing the acceptance of white people towards black people throughout the film. A parallel storyline that runs during the rugby match involves a South African child and some white police officers. This demonstrates acceptance. In the beginning of the scene, the South African child wanted to hear how the Springboks were playing by eavesdropping on a police officer’s car radio. At first, the police officers rudely send him away and continue to listen to the game. The African child still tries to get closer and closer, while pretending to collect soft drink cans. But, towards the end of the scene, the Springboks score and win the game, and the police become more accepting and forgiving.

They begin to celebrate with the child and raise him up on their shoulders as if he were a mascot. Ironically, in the beginning of the film, the same child is seen refusing to wear a Springbok jersey. By using the same child in the beginning of the movie and towards the end, this shows the audience how the South Africans have changed their view on the Springboks. This acceptance of the Springboks showed the beginnings of a nation coming together. During the World Cup, the final game in the film, the scene occasionally cuts to shots of empty streets and empty houses. This technique shows that everyone is watching the game and that everyone is excited to see the outcome. Another thing Clint Eastwood did to show the black and white people combined is at the end of the movie.

He used the world cup to symbolise the nation had been brought together. He did this by making Francois and Chester to both hold the World Cup up above their heads, showing the black and white hand together. By the end of the film Invictus, during the final scene, one can see that the crowd watching the rugby game has changed quite considerably, compared to the game in the start of the film where the Springboks play against England. During this game, Clint Eastwood makes it seem as though the crowd is not the main part of the scene, the game of rugby is. Clint Eastwood makes the focus before the game when Nelson Mandela comes out to greet the players. Then the focus comes off the idea that it is a game of rugby and shows how many people do not like Nelson Mandela.

The crowd ‘boo’ and throw rubbish at him. At the end of the movie, the crowd is cheerful and excited. South Africans are cheering for the Springboks and everyone in Africa is witnessing the game. This makes the audience realise the difference between the crowds at the beginning and the end of the film showing how the nation became one. Clint Eastwood has shown the change of the nation through the Springboks by starting the film with distinctive separation between the two sides. By the middle, the Springboks have started to make small changes to unite the nation. By the end of the movie, it is clear that the Springboks are fundamental in making a large difference in uniting the nation.

Word Count – 922


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