In 2009, on this day the controversial movie Invictus (Latin: Invincible) premiered in theatres across North America. Expecting a "larger than life" tribute, cinema goers were shocked to discover that director Clint Eastwood had abandoned form by portraying an alternate timeline in which Nelson Mandela's personal and political fortunes are dashed in a decade-long South African tragedy.
Click to watch the Movie Trailer on Youtube
Invictus Premiers across North AmericaTrouble begins early in the movie with the breakdown of his second marriage to wife Winnie. And in a scene intended to symbolize the frustation of white disempowerment, the national cricket captain Hansie Cronje spears an umpire's dressing room door with a wicket stump. As the country heads towards Civil War, Mandela seeks out a national symbol that will heal the wounds of apartheid by acting as a platform upon which he can build a new "Rainbow Nation".
Mandela appeals to iconic cricket captain Hansie Cronje to win the world cup for all forty-three million South Africans. But unbeknown to the President, the national cricket team is gripped by a match-fixing scandal, organised by none other than Cronje himself.
Alongside Cronje is the trusted figure of Bob Woolmer. A famous English batsman from the nineteen seventies, he was appointed coach of South Africa in 1994. Initially his team performed poorly, losing all six matches on his first outing in Pakistan. However, in the next five years, South Africa won most of their Test (10 out of 15 series) and One Day International matches (73%). Having the highest ODI success rate among international teams in that period, Woolmer assures Mandela that a South African victory is more than possible.
Shortly after Mandela travels to England for the tournament, the United Cricket Board of South Africa deny that any of their players were involved in match-fixing. Cronje then falsely claims that "the allegations are completely without substance". But just two days before the inaugural match, Cronje is sacked as captain after confessing to the Head of the UCBSA Ali Bacher that he has not been "entirely honest". He admits accepting between $10,000 and $15,000 from a London-based bookmaker for "forecasting" results, not match fixing, during the recent one day series. Three other players: Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje and Pieter Strydom are also directly implicated.
The final scene of the movie is heavy with symbolism because Cronje's plane crashes into the Outeniqua mountains northeast of George airport, and the disgraced captain dies, aged just thirty-two.