Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says OK for kids 12+
Inspiring tale about Mandela, rugby, and national pride.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this fact-based Clint Eastwood-directed drama (which stars Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman) is an uplifting movie that's age appropriate for older tweens and young teens -- the PG-13 rating is primarily for language (one use of "f--king" and a couple of "s--t"s are the worst of it). Because of its narrow focus -- the movie follows President Nelson Mandela's decision to rally support behind South Africa's nearly all-white national rugby team -- there's no violence except for the rugby itself (which is quite physically aggressive). And Damon's character kisses his wife, but there's nothing more risque than that. Ultimately the movie is both educational and inspiring, providing an excellent lesson about post-apartheid South Africa, national unity, and the universality of sports.
- Families can talk about the movie's themes of national unity and desegregation. Why does Mandela decide to save the rugby team? What does the rugby
team represent to black South Africans at the beginning of the film,
and how does that change throughout the movie?
- What do Pienaar's rugby teammates mean when they that say the new national anthem
is a "terrorist song"? What does the movie teach viewers about the history of
- The poem "Invictus" is referenced and read more than once in the movie. What do you think the poem means, and why does Mandela give it to Pienaar?
The good stuff
Positive messages: The movie has an uplifting message about how Mandela led South Africans by example by rooting for a nearly all-white rugby team to foster national unity. Mandela's love of the poem "Invictus," which he had up in his prison cell and later gives to the captain of the rugby team, means "unconquered" in Latin and has an inspiring message: "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."
Positive role models: Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela is portrayed as a kind, open-hearted leader who wants to help South Africa heal the deep wounds caused by apartheid. Mandela understands how the rugby team, once a bastion of segregated South Africa, could turn into a beacon of new South Africa. Francois Pienaar is willing to work with Mandela, even at a time when many white South Africans were resistant to Mandela's leadership. He encourages his teammates to acknowledge the new South African anthem and to reach out to the black majority.
What to watch for
Violence: Rugby is a pretty violent sport, but otherwise, there's no conventional violence except for when an angry white South African throws a soda cup in the vicinity of President Mandela. In another scene, Mandela is shown collapsed on the floor.
Sexy stuff: Francois kisses and hugs his wife a couple of times, and the night she visits him before a big match, he says they "can't" but that he needs her for "inspiration," and then they start kissing. A presidential guard flirts with Mandela's secretary.
Language: The rugby team occasionally swears (though considerably less than you'd imagine professional athletes cursing) -- one "f--king" and a couple of "s--t"s is the worst of it. Otherwise, the strongest words are "bastard," "freakin'," "crap," and "damn."
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue