image for Invictus

Short takes

Lacks interest and not recommended under 8, PG to 12 (Violence, coarse language)

classification logo

This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Invictus
  • a review of Invictus completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 14 January 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to lack of interest, violence and coarse language
Children 8-12 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and coarse language
Children 13 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Invictus
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Infrequent coarse language
Length: 133 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film Invictus, (Latin for ‘unconquered’) is based upon real events in post-apartheid South Africa. Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman), South Africa’s first democratically elected president, is facing post-apartheid crises between black and white South Africans.

Mandela decides that one way of bringing South Africans together is by embracing the country’s national rugby team the Springboks, a team worshipped by white South Africans and despised by black South Africans as a symbol of apartheid. Through rugby’s World Cup Mandela hopes to win the allegiance of white South Africans, and provide hope and inspiration to black South Africans while showcasing the new South Africa to the world. Unfortunately the Springboks have been performing badly and are in no shape to win past the first round of the World Cup.  

To further his cause, Precedent Mandela enlists the help of the Springbok’s captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon).


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Sport; apartheid; racism

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Violence in this film includes news images of rioting and on-field sports violence. Examples include:

  • News footage of black South Africans rioting in the streets carrying machetes, houses and buildings on fire, a person either unconscious or dead lying in the street and comments about civil war breaking out.
  • Reference is made to white South Africans coming out of the womb with guns in their hands.
  • A number of scenes of rough rugby tackling. We see player crashing into other players and knocking them to the ground with players sporting cuts and bruises to their faces, arms and legs.
  • During the World Cup match we see a couple of minor fights and a number of scuffles involving most of the players from both teams
  • A young black South African boy refuses a Springbok jersey because if he wears it the other children will beat him up.
  • Members of the Springbok rugby team angrily hurl cans of beer at a wall after losing a match.
  • We hear Pienaar tell his team mates “I will break my arm, my leg, my neck before letting another player pass”.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • At one point we see Mandela lying unconscious on the ground and hear that he collapsed as a result of exhaustion.
  • Flashback images show Mandela in prison doing hard labour, breaking boulders with a pick. We hear how Mandela spent twenty seven years in a tiny prison cell and hear about how his family was dragged out of their home by South African Police 
  • The All Blacks rugby team do a Haka to intimidate their opponents.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Some children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the scenes described above

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Large sponsorship signs are displayed around the sports stadium promoting various brands of beer.
  • People are seen drinking Coke, soft drinks and brand name beer.

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • While he is staying in a hotel, Pienaar’s wife enters his room and kisses him. They kiss passionately and fall back onto the bed.
  • Mandela dances and flirts with a woman at a party, commenting on her attractiveness.
  • Women wear low-cut tops that reveal cleavage.  

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Various groups of people at home and in bars drink beer while watching rugby but there is no intoxicated behaviour depicted.
  • In a change-room scene, cans of beer are handed out to every member of the Springbok rugby team. Team members make negative comments about the taste of the beer and hurl the full cans against the change-room wall.
  • Springbok players engage in a drinking game that involves singing a song followed by sculling a drink. 

Coarse language

The film contains coarse language and name calling. Examples include:

  • bloody bastards, shit, sneaky bugger, bugger off, "hit the fucking guy"

In a nutshell

Invictus is a historical drama suited to an audience 13 years and older. It is thought-provoking and entertaining, but lacks interest for younger viewers. The film’s two lead actors, Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon provide strong believable performances.

The main messages from this movie are that

  • forgiveness liberates the soul.
  • inspiration is the key to nation building and exceeding personal expectations.
  • the real enemy is prejudice and an unforgiving spirit.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Forgiveness and reconciliation: Rather than seeking revenge against the white South Africans who imprisoned him, Mandela tells black South Africans to throw their weapons into the sea.
  • Self sacrifice: Mandela makes numerous self sacrifices for his country, working long hours to the point of exhaustion, risking his personal safety by making himself available to the public and donating one third of his salary to charity.