FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Lions for Lambs

by PRAIRIE MILLER

Unfolding as nearly a raw, gritty, highly stylized rough cut of itself, Robert Redford’s Lions For Lambs is a breathlessly urgent and stinging reality-based dramatic indictment of recent US foreign policy and its endless war on terror. As a kind of antidote to the evasive and compartmentalized tactics of the money media that goes to great lengths to omit or deny cause and effect when it comes to official government policy and the multitude of lives impacted by it, Lions For Lambs makes its critical and indeed defiant point that life and death decisions about issues like war have concrete and irrefutable repercussions that stretch far and wide to various corners of the planet. Or perhaps as close by as the person right next to us, whom we may care for deeply.

The title is taken from a German general’s mocking comments during WWII, expressing his admiration for the courage of British foot soldiers, while ridiculing their commanding officers: ‘Never have I seen such lions led by such lambs.’ The words are spoken in the film by Redford’s character, Dr. Malley, a former ’60s activist and idealistic professor at a West Coast university who is increasingly frustrated by the cynicism, materialism and complacency of the younger generation of students in his political science classes. Malley is also shocked and stunned that the moral convictions he tried to impart to his young charges has led to two of his students of color, played by Derek Luke and Michael Pena, to sign up for the military to fight the war on terror. And their unit has been assigned to a dangerous secret mission in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the architect of that new plan–essentially a dismal replay of the failures of Viet Nam–is the brash and ambitious US Senator Irving (Tom Cruise). Irving has called in star DC reporter Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) to reveal limited hints about the plan without giving much away, attempting to manipulate the interview and dictate the story to what he hopes will be more a stenographer’s than a journalist’s ear, in order to produce the promo puff piece that will enhance his future bid for the US presidency.

But a clearly stressed and distraught Roth has long been jaded by the seemingly aimless and perpetual war on terror in which she herself feels a gnawing complicity as an initially compliant player in the media. So a heated political debate between the two ensues rather than a conventional interview, and all sorts of controversial topics touching on the nature of present day paranoid, violent, preemptively destructive and victory-obsessed government policies fire up the dialogue.

With references to Greek philosophy at hand, it’s apparently Redford’s intention to spark political discourse in Lions For Lambs about the ailing state of the nation, and the needless sacrifice of its young to wars, with a concurrent warped sense of glory telegraphed by the cheerleaders in authority–the lambs–far from the battlefields. Specifically, the drama is shaped in the manner of the dialectics of classical Greek philosophy and its ultimate intent, namely the search for truth. The weighty issues are at times delivered in too rapid a style to fully contemplate and digest, but their significance for an urgent and long overdue national debate is in no way diminished. In any case, Lions For Lambs tugs at the heart and mind and shakes an uneasy stirred collective consciousness awake, revealing as in a mirror a thirst for logic and the truth, that has long been an endangered cultural entity.

Lions For Lambs opens in theaters November 9th

PRAIRIE MILLER is a WBAI film critic, and host and executive producer of The WBAI Arts Magazine. She can be reached at: pmiller@wbai.org.

 

 

More articles by:
February 22, 2018
Jeffrey Sommers
Bond Villain in the World Economy: Latvia’s Offshore Banking Sector
Mark Schuller
Haiti’s Latest Indignity at the Hands of Dogooders, Oxfam’s Sex Scandal
T.J. Coles
How the US Bullies North Korea, 1945-Present
Ipek S. Burnett
Rethinking Freedom in the Era of Mass Shootings
Manuel E. Yepe
Fire and Fury: More Than a Publishing Hit
Patrick Bobilin
Caught in a Trap: Being a Latino Democrat is Being in an Abusive Relationship
Laurel Krause
From Kent State to Parkland High: Will America Ever Learn?
Terry Simons
Congress and the AR-15: One NRA Stooge Too Many
George Wuerthner
Border Wall Delusions
Manuel García, Jr.
The Anthropocene’s Birthday, or the Birth-Year of Human-Accelerated Climate Change
Thomas Knapp
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Russiagate
February 21, 2018
Cecil Bothwell
Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail