South African president Nelson Mandela allies himself with the all-white South African rugby team in order to promote racial harmony in the 1990s. In 1990s, political activist Nelson Mandela is finally released from prison in South Africa, having spent more than three decades incarcerated. A few years later, Mandela is elected president of the country, the first black President the country has ever had. The biggest problem he faces as a political leader: the past has been wrought with racial tension and segregation, where black South Africans resent the formerly supremacist white South Africans and vice versa. Mandela goes to a rugby game between England and South Africa's team, the Springboks. He notices that the black people in the crowd are all cheering for England, because the Springboks are predominantly white and are the favorite team of the prejudiced whites in the country. Mandela hatches a plan to bring the country together: with South Africa hosting the Rugby World Cup a year later, he meets with the black Sports Council of the country and asks them to help promote the Springboks to the black community. He then meets Francois Pienaar, the captain of the Springboks, and urges him to win the World Cup the next year-- Francois believes this, rightly, to be a huge longshot, but Mandela's charisma and story inspires him to try his best. The Springbok team for the most part believes this plan will have no impact on the country whatsoever, but Mandela and Francois continue to beat the drum. Francois schedules the Springboks to meet with and do volunteer work for the black youth of the country, and when the season begins, they find their popularity has grown. They begin winning, and their final match in the World Cup comes against their archrivals. Mandela takes the team to visit his prison cell, in one final play to hopefully inspire them to seal the World Cup victory.
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Best part of story, including ending:
This is a terrific story, but Eastwood's direction is too dry and humorless, and as a result the film on the whole comes across stiff.
Best scene in story:
The visit to Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned for decades, is an emotional moment, just to fully realize what he went through while locked up.
Opinion about the main character:
Mandela is a very likable lead-- he's depicted as a bit too flighty for my tastes, as we only ever see him talking about rugby, but Freeman gives him charm.