Lions for Lambs: Movie notes

Mar 01, 2008 Published under Democracy and Freedom (or lack of), Leadership, Movies

Robert Redford plays a Professor at a Stanford-like California liberal arts university with an urgent message for his students about the imperative of not leaving governance and public service to the despots, the bureaucrats and the political animals.  Even if, no, particularly if, things look bad, service is that much more needed, and giving it your best is what is important.

The title of the movie comes from an analogy from the World War I to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Germans in the first world war used to admire the British soldiers on the front as courageous and determined but they considered their generals mediocre.  One German General said something along the lines of, "Never have I seen so many lions commanded by such lambs." Redford’s character feels the same is true of the idealistic young men who volunteered to serve their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Too bad the movie has several moments that feel contrived, either because of an overly didactic script or because of the editing.  But the movie is worth watching because of several compelling observations, even if some are forced in.

The core message of not turning to apathy just because things are bad is very much applicable to the world we live in today.  It is such an easy cop-out to complain and be cynical.  It takes more work to do something about it.

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  1. Matthew Kays said:

    I agree with your comments and the concept of this movie. The bitter reality of the journalist that’s torn between her values and playing the role her boss demands in order to have money to care for an elderly mother — the almost pleading wit of a professor trying to make purpose from his career choice — and stories of young, blind idealism juxtaposed with young, blind cynicism. It’s strikes a balance between trying to be cerebral and entertaining the masses.

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