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Parents' Guide to


By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Inspiring tale about Mandela, rugby, and national pride.

Movie PG-13 2009 133 minutes
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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 20 parent reviews

age 13+
Do you like Morgan Freeman? Do your teens like sports? Do you want to teach your kids about Apartheid using something they like? Then this is the movie for you. Stellar acting and a captivating story.
age 7+

Inspiring story with teaching moments

My 11 and 10 year olds asked a lot of questions about Mandela, who was portrayed flawlessly by Morgan Freeman. My 7 year olds enjoyed the sport aspect and the moments when kids interact with the players.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (20 ):
Kids say (28 ):

Freeman is a revelation as Mandela. Inspirational sports movies have a tendency to be full of overwrought dialogue and sappy, swelling music accompanying the athletic competition. Eastwood's genius is that even though there's enough of both here (including dramatic recitations of the titular poem, which means "unconquered"), the film never feels bogged down by sentimentality. It's difficult to imagine any other actor playing the iconic leader, and Freeman doesn't disappoint. With every nod, walk, and smile, Freeman fully transforms into the Nobel Peace Prize winner -- his lovingly executed performance is reason enough to see this historically accurate film. Damon packed on muscle to play the barrel-chested Francois, although he couldn't do anything to approach the real Pienaar's considerable height. Most American audiences won't know whether Damon nailed the South African accent, but at least it stays consistent, as do his rugby moves, for which Damon trained extensively.

There's not much scene-stealing from Damon; he seems content to let Freeman and the game of rugby set the tone. One particularly memorable scene shows how the players react to Francois handing out the words to the new South African anthem (one of them calls it a "terrorist song," and several crumple up the paper). And despite the movie's serious themes, there's a surprising amount of humor, usually in the form of Mandela's integrated personal security force -- the black guards don't even know how to follow rugby: "What just happened?" one asks, "They scored!" says a white guard. The black and white guards are wary of each other at first, but by the end of the movie, they're all playing rugby and picking on each other. No doubt it took more than rugby to overcome the deep fissures caused by apartheid in South Africa (if they've been overcome at all), but in this movie, love of rugby and of a new nation go beautifully hand in hand.

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