Clint Eastwood’s Invictus is a special film because of the way it constructs its narrative. Morgan Freeman had been sitting on the rights to the Nelson Mandela biopic but hadn’t found the right project. Then John Carlin’s book Playing the Enemy was optioned and the film was greenlit.
Similar to Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, Invictus is not a film about sports, but instead uses it as a framework in order to tell a larger story. In this case, the story unabashedly surrounds Mandela. This could have been the standard biopic about his young life being engulfed by apartheid, his eventual incarceration, release, and rise to the Presidency of South Africa. Yet, would that have made the film any different from any other retelling of his life?