Construction of Meaning in Invictus the Movie

Image result for invictus the movie images

Invictus the movie directed by Clint Eastwood is studied in Year 12 Mainstream English in AOS1, Unit 4, Reading and Comparing Texts.

In order to compare Invictus a movie with the text Ransom which is a novel, students should look carefully at construction of meaning that is relevant to a movie.  In order to answer the criteria for comparative texts in a SAC and in the final English exam, it is important to incorporate construction of meaning in your essays.

Why is Construction of Meaning in Invictus the Movie Important?

When reading/viewing texts to construct meaning, readers/viewers increase their understanding by recognising the craftsmanship of the writing/movie and the choices the authors/directors made to portray the topic in a certain way.

In order to achieve a high mark for essays students need to interpret the texts analytically which includes understanding the implications of:

  • how the author constructs meaning and structure in a text and
  • then explain what the author’s purpose or agenda was in writing the text

If you just write about the narrative only you are NOT answering the key criteria of AOS1

See my earlier Post on Construction of Meaning and the Key Criteria of AOS1 for further details

What is Construction of Meaning?


The details below are a brief summary only of the construction of meaning to help students develop the material further in class:

  1. Type of Text = Movie / historical / drama / biographical / political / sports. Released in 2009.  Director Clint Eastwood.  Writer Anthony Peckham.
  2. Setting = South Africa between 1994-1995. 1st year of Nelson Mandela’s Presidency.  Post apartheid South Africa, start of Rainbow Nation.
  3. Title of movie = Symbol for ‘unconquered’ taken from Henley poem that inspired Mandela.
  4. Narrative Structure = The film progresses in a linear fashion with an introduction / middle / end with the history behind Nelson Mandela / his Presidency / Rugby World Cup / conclusion winning the World Cup.
  5. Historical Context = Mandela is released after 27 years in prison and his 1st year of Presidency is the narrative as he uses the Rugby World Cup in 1995 to unify South Africans.
  6. Themes = leadership / sacrifice / reconciliation / forgiveness / identity / family / politics / challenges / responsibility / racial tension / apartheid / inspiration / change / sport / revenge / documentary story / destiny
  7. Symbolism/Imagery = Flag of Springboks / Rainbow Nation Flag / South African Flag / Mandela’s clothes / Springboks jersey, cap and colours / Nkosi Sikelel / South African division between black and white / poor and wealthy / rugby catalyst for change
  8. Characters & Relationships = Mandela & his staff / Mandela & his family especially Zindzi / Mandela & the South African nation / Pienaar & his rugby team / his family / Black & white body guards / South Afrikaners & black South Africans
  9. Director’s Big Picture Values = Clint Eastwood was inspired by the book ‘Playing the Enemy’ by Carlin about the inspiration of Mandela to use a rugby game to help unify a nation. He also appreciated the element of ‘the underdog’ in sport to win and the support of sportsmanship.
  10. Music & Soundtracks = 9000 Days of Destiny / Nkosi Sikelel i Africa adds to position the viewers and the dramatic plot.
  11. Narrative Voice = Dialogue of characters – words are powerful tools / social and political interactions / media is a narrative device to create a back story on Mandela / Newspaper headlines / News casts on TV / TV broadcaster Johan de Villiers comments establishes the international community view on apartheid.
  12. Film Techniques = Discuss in detail these techniques with your English teacher
    1. Mise en scene
    2. Setting
    3. Lighting
    4. Acting style
    5. Costumes
    6. Cinematography
      1. Camera distance / close ups / medium shots / medium long shots / long shots
      2. Camera angle / straight on / low angle / high angle / camera movement / pans
    7. Sound
      1. Dialogue and sound of action
      2. Music soundtrack
      3. Voice overs
      4. Dream sequence of action in character’s mind