A renowned military tactician and highly decorated officer General Irwin (Robert Redford) is court martialed and sent to a top-security military prison. The warden of the prison Colonel Winter (James Gandolfini) is a big admirer of General Irwin, but the relationship between the two soon turns frosty and then ugly as General Irwin publicly disagrees with the Irwin’s management style. The confrontation between the legendary general and the iron-fisted warden soon becomes a full-fledged war and the only outcome the general and the prison inmates are willing to accept is a change in the prison management. In the end, Irwin loses his life, but Winter is removed from his position and imprisoned.
The Last Castle (2001) is a story about leadership. The military has historically provided great examples of effective leadership around countries worldiwde. Many of America’s great leaders (e.g. Washington, Eisenhower) have come from the military. The same is true for many other countries of the world (e.g. Kemal Pasha Ataturk in Turkey). But there is no one leadership style that all military leaders have. There is General George Patton and there is General Dweight Eisenhower. The movie does an effective job of showing two distinctive leadership styles and how both men-Irwin and Winter- thought what they were doing was right. Their leadership had tremendous consequences for the people who followed them, and that is what makes it difficult for a leader to understand what to do in any situation.
A good movie for a leadership class!