The Last Castle (2001)

 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!

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66 responses to “The Last Castle (2001)

  1. I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.

  2. Kurt (Jun Guo)

    The warden was trying to make Eugene Irwin, the General, understand the system, making himself perfectly clear what prisoners are supposed to do under his command, just doing the best he can to do his job RIGHT, which suits that kind of situations in a prison where things could easily get rough and strict disciplines have to be employed. (I couldn’t think of an alternative solution to his leadership style yet, given that prisons are extreme cases for leadership). But the General’s charisma and high level in the military earns him the trust from the inmates. Even though Eugene Irwin isn’t trying to cause any trouble when doing time, his strong dignity doesn’t allow him to do so. Being a high-ranking officer, the general’s arrogance must be playing a major role in his decision-making which leads to a rather catastrophic ending for everyone. Two different kinds of leadership styles clash in a rather tense environment. To me, if the general really wanted to make some changes for the prison for the sake of others, he could have done so in a more peaceful and smarter way with NO violence, if that IS the ultimate goal that he and his followers are trying to reach. From my point of view, he has done the same mistake again as when he sacrificed eight of his men on another mission instead of following orders, making decisions that had severe consequences. And most likely, if the General had never been put in that prison, things could be easier and smoother like normal. I couldn’t judge the warden’s actions because I wouldn’t know what it is like to run a prison where rules don’t apply quite the same as the outside. But I do believe that people with soft hearts probably won’t do even half as well. Just like the referees for a competitive ball game where it also could be dangerous, tolerance for certain violations and biased judgments could lead to serious injuries as they could lead to death in prison. Certain people need to be taught a lesson to really understand the consequences for disobeying orders.
    Quite a few people died both during when the inmates aren’t following the rules in the prison and during the actual battle at the end, which I don’t think was worth getting killed at all. And it probably never occurred to the general that all of the people died were because of his arrogance and anger towards those who were just trying to do their jobs. As a general, he should understand disciplines better than anyone there. The fact that he ignores the rules and puts the warden on the spot easily says that he doesn’t think he should be punished in prison as much as he “DOES” feel guilty for what he did. (From the scene where the Aguilar kid gets punished because he saluted to the general but the general doesn’t get any punishment for teaching him how to salute for quite a while clearly indicates that the warden respects him and is not looking for any trouble. But afterwards, he goes and teaches the guard how things are done, acting like a life saver, begging for more punishment. To me, he either has too much pride in what he was, or he is not too smart afterall.) The warden, on the other hand, who appears to be the bad guy, doesn’t seem to me is the one at fault. I admit that he did have some actions that probably aggravated most of the viewers, however, given his position, at a prison where fights could easily lead to death, strict discipline is necessary for cases like this. The inmate who got killed the first time was a sad sacrifice for the warden’s trying to show who is the boss here, but it wasn’t completely the warden’s cruelty that got him killed, for everyone knows what happens to the people who don’t “get down”: they get shot at. It pains me to have to say this, but, he, himself, was the one to blame. As leaders, rules are rules no matter you like it or not, following rules is the same as abiding laws. If you break it, you have to pay for it. In prisons where things could get a little extreme, extreme rules are placed. And it says clearly at the beginning of the movie that the warden hates the idea that a general will be put into his prison, and he also asked General Wheeler to help him get Eugene Irwin transferred else where. So, I don’t think the warden likes to show off his power and feel good about himself for fun. He was nervous and I am sure he thought of the best way and the most proper way to express his feelings to try to deal this at the first meeting between them. For all we know from this movie, the warden, although appear to be a little sneaky, could be a great warden who is the best at the job until the General, who thinks he is too good to be here, comes. So, to sum up, I am not in favor of either of these two main characters but definitely am against a lot of the General’s actions.

  3. Philip St. Clair

    The mental combat that Colonial Winters and General Irwin engage in is to say the least, entertaining. Not only do they strike the viewer as dead opposites, with Winters playing the antagonistic warden and Irwin assuming the protagonist, but towards the end of the movie you see that the two leaders are participating in a real-life game of chess, one of Irwin’s favorite games. It would appear that the “Castle” itself can represent an organization or company, for our purposes, while the game of chess can symbolize the art of politics, which take place in nearly every business setting. These politics occur despite the resentment of normal employees just like a war between Winters and Irwin occurs despite the resentment of guards and prisoners alike. Yet, everyone makes the most of the situation and falls into place and does there job. This is mainly because of the leadership presented by BOTH Irwin and winters.
    It is plain to see that former General Irwin possess all the leadership characteristics that anyone could hope for in a leader. He is charismatic, honest and proud. He also undoubtedly engages in transformational leadership with his prisoners. He leads with self respect and sets positive examples for how business is to be conducted.
    And yes Colonial Winters too had strong leadership characteristics. Despite his antagonistic role, he too displayed charismatic leadership, but instead of gaining the respect of his subordinates, he commanded it. Colonial Winters was strongly focused on transactional leadership. To the uneducated person this may seem like a lesser form of leadership but both transformational and transactional are needed in the business world we live in. Winters was simply managing the prisoners and guards and cared nothing to change them in any way. He showed his true transactional leading colors when he referenced the statistics behind his performance. He said that no man has attempted to escape and no man has been killed under his reign. But it is just that, a reign. He got what he wanted out of them and the job got done; however he did this using fear and unethical principles which is where the line is clearly drawn between Winters and Irwin. Winters controls his subordinates; Irwin empowers them. Winters neglects his subordinates; Irwin entrusts them. Winters cared about himself as an individual, Irwin cared about the team of which he was a mere individual.
    Towards the end of the movie Winters lost his control and when this happens to the type of manager that Winters was, chaos can break loose, and it surely did, culminating in the death of former General Irwin.
    In closing, this movie is an excellent example of morality, ethics, human respect and of course leadership. The lessons learned from former General Irwin are simple, yet they transcend not just through the world of war but the world of business. I can bet that General Irwin followed the famed transformational leadership model which states that “A good leader puts himself out of a job” Irwin did just that and for it he paid the highest price.

  4. Michael Warren

    Irwin’s actions were necessary to correct the corrupt system that Col. Winter has set up. Winter was a poor leader and changed protocols to make himself feel powerful. He gave Irwin an extreme punishment and refused to blow the evening horn when Irwin’s punishment should have been over. Winter also did this earlier when he was going to have Aguilar serve more time than normal protocols allow, going pass the next morning’s horn, before Irwin stood up for Aguilar. Irwin had to become a leader and unify the other inmates in response to Winter’s abuse of power. He did this by having the inmates rebuild a castle wall.
    I cannot believe that Winter would have been a good warden. Winter himself knew what he was doing was wrong and tried to rationalized it to himself. Winter also tried to hide the conditions of the prison from his superior, General Wheeler. I believe Irwin took all the correct actions despite these actions leading to the deaths of some people. If Irwin tried to correct the current system peacefully, it would not have worked. Irwin was a great leader and stood up for what is right. He knowingly gave his own life to make the lives of the other inmates better.

  5. Anthony Olenik

    Leadership is shown in two forms in The Last Castle. Colonel Winter represents leadership through force and fear. General Eugene Irwin embodies leadership by example and respect.

    Winter’s responsibility is to control the prison population by any ethical means necessary. Any prisoner that disobeys the rules is swiftly dealt punishment. The prison atmosphere and constant threat from the inmates warranted the searching of cells and use of several tactics. There were ethical breaches in Winter’s leadership though that escalated in significance through the movie. Winter performed a questionable action as he attempted to undermine General Irwin’s figurehead position in the prison population, by reading his crime of sending eight men to their death against direct orders. More serious ethical breaches and ruling through fear included the standard “End it” command to the watchtower marksman, when a rubber bullet was fired at the head of an unruly inmate. Winter’s inability to lead his men and retain complete control culminated with a judgment breakdown and four fatal shots to General Irwin who was only raising an American flag for what he believed in.

    The symbolic action Irwin took to raise the flag embodied leadership at its best. The other prisoners saw his charisma and abilities. They willingly followed him to a final siege of the prison to dethrone Winter and show they were still men worthy of basic respect and humane treatment. Irwin led by motivation and example. He shared all risks with his inmates and confronted the wrongs being committed by the prison staff. Irwin was worthy of his unofficial rank of “Chief” among the prisoners and obtained it only through respect.

  6. Undoubtedly, “The Last Castle” is a film that holds many lessons for the viewer. I believe that one of the most impacting moments of the film is in the opening scene, when General Irwin (Robert Redford) describes the elements of a castle. He proclaims that a castle must have four key elements, which include: the location, positioned on high ground, it must have protection from its enemies with a high wall, it must include the garrison (men willing to fight and kill for the castle), and lastly, a castle must have a flag, that the men are pledged to protect at all costs. This opening speech set the scene for the entire movie, suggesting the impending plot that would develop.
    Immediately, I recognized the structure and the discipline of the facility as being that of the United States military. With further observation, it quickly became apparent that the facility lacked the proper procedure and stature that is desired and deemed necessary within the military. I understood at that point that a power struggle for leadership within “the castle” walls would develop.
    With the entrance of General Irwin into the facility I could sense the soldiers were yearning for someone to lead them, and desired someone that could take hold of the situation at hand. The Colonel of the prison is exactly the opposite of how a military officer should control and lead. He is a manipulating figurehead, who has little tolerance for the prisoners and has no care for the lives of these fallen soldiers. This is apparent when he deliberately orders the guards to put only one basketball out on the yard, which results in a fight where a solider is wounded by a rubber bullet. This is when the soldiers first turn to General Irwin for support. They explain that incidents like this happen all the time in the prison and often it is accompanied by substandard medical service and cruel and unnecessary punishment for said actions. At first, the General refuses to take charge of the soldiers, and it seems that they may have to continue to suffer through the Colonel’s unjust practices.
    The first real moment in the film when it appears that the General is willing to take a role of leadership is when Aguilar continues to salute him despite the fact that it is a direct violation of prison rules. The General sees the former Marine’s persistence and informs him the proper method of saluting and gives him a brief lesson on the inception of saluting. As a result of his violation of protocol, he is made to stand in the rain “saluting” all night long. The General takes note of this soldier’s action and tells him that it is not necessary for him to continue to take part in this punishment any longer, hence resulting in a punishment of his own.
    I consider the following scene to be a turning point in the film, as it shows the General taking part in a senseless punishment of moving a pile of rocks. This scene is very powerful, as it shows that the inmates are beginning to come together as a unit, or an army. They continue to encourage the General and cheer for him as he continues the daunting task of moving stones. Once the General takes off his t-shirt, I was convinced that there was no chance that he was not going to finish moving the stones. With the scars of torture, etched in back, he continues to rally his men as he finished the task.
    This scene can definitely be considered the catalyst for the film. The General reminds the soldiers of where they came from and what it means to be a soldier. A project begins of building a “proper” rock wall as a single unit of men. The men, regardless of the Colonel’s orders, begin to use secret code words for ranks and come up with their own means of saluting fellow officers. You begin to see the sense of unity and structure that surrounds the unit of soldiers.
    Another turning point for the soldiers is when the wall is at last built and the soldiers take their turn etching their name in the rocks of the walls. This rebellion against the order that the Colonel had worked to create seems like the last straw. The Colonel orders that the rock wall be bulldozed. When they try and bulldoze the wall, Aguilar stands in front of the wall refusing to move as the siren sounds. This ends up in a fatal shooting for the solider as ordered by the Colonel. With this act, the General decides to take matters into his own hands. He seeks out a Sgt. Major in the ranks of the soldiers and gives him the order to have his soldiers “fall in!” The General has finally decided to take hold of the leadership position that he has been trained to serve in.
    In the moments that follow, the General gives a powerful speech that any person can not help but cheer for. He gives an arousing testimony to the fallen soldiers of battles of the past and notes that the most important of monuments are not those made of steel or iron, but those of a rifle stabbed into the ground with a helmet placed gently on top, dog tags hanging to the side, those that are in far off deserts and swampy jungles. Those are the memorials that matter and that are remembered by the men. The soldiers in turn break out in “The Marine Corps Hymn” in remembrance of Aguilar. This touching scene shows that the soldiers and truly united as one, under General Irwin.
    Not only does the notion of leadership play a significant role in this film, but Yates is presented with an ethical dilemma of dire proportions, whether to snitch on the other soldiers’ plan to take overtake “the castle” or withhold the honor of his father and himself as a descendant of the Congressional Medal of Honor winner. General Irwin gives another speech to his troops in the mess hall and devises a plan to overcome the compound. The last part of the film erupts in chaos as the members of the prison overtake the guards and lead an uprising within the castle walls.
    After a heroic effort the soldiers are able to subdue the guards and take out both the water cannon and the helicopter. They do not forget their fallen comrade when they send the rock with Aguilar’s name etched into it flying through the Colonel’s office! Ultimately, the soldiers are ordered to get down on the ground by the Colonel. However, they choose to only drop when given the order by their true commander, General Irwin. Irwin, despite the order to drop, believes that it is his mission to finish the task at hand, raising the flag. Afraid that the General is going to desecrate the flag by raising it upside down and partially because he was just disobeying the Colonel, the Colonel fatally shoots the General; however, not before the General is able to raise the flag in a triumphant victory for himself, the soldiers, and in the honor of all the soldiers that have perished. To no surprise, the General raises the flag upright, to honor his castle, his flag, and his country.
    I recommend this film to any individual that is looking for an example of exemplary leadership. Those in any profession, including the world of business, can take the actions of General Irwin, Aguilar, Yates, and the other soldiers and apply them to situations of today. Whether faced with an ethical dilemma or just having to take that first step into a position of leadership this film offers that and much more.

  7. After watching the movie, I was stunned by the two different leadership styles. I can’t say which one is better, I guess both of them can work under certain circumstances. Although the warden seems to be a leader of cruelty, I think, unless you are in that position, we would never understand how difficult it is to run a prison. Some of his actions do make sense to me, the only thing I feel that could be improved in his dealing with the whole problem is probably sit down with the General peacefully and talk to him about how he has to treat everyone equally and hope he could cooperate with him to make his job easier. But, he, too, has too much pride in what he does and underestimated the potential disasters. About the General, as much as I admire how he is a natural leader, there are situations where he could have done to avoid blood-shed endings. As a respectable well-known then General, he could have used his influence and changed the situation peacefully by talking to the warden and telling him that he thinks the warden could change his managerial style a little bit less-violence. Every action leads to a consequence whether it is good or bad. By better foresee the possible consequences, I believe, as a smart leader who also cares about his followers, he could have used an alternative solution and dealt with this problem more peacefully. Nevertheless, I learnt a lot about leadership in this movie, such as how to treat and encourage your followers differently based on their personalities, how you have to be justice and honorable, as well as both physically and mentally strong to really make people believe you are the leader they want to follow, etc. Overall, I like this movie and am glad that I watched it.

  8. The way The Last Castle was filmed, as is the case with countless prison related movies, the inmates are made out to be the good guys / heroes while the warden and his staff are the enemies or villains. Had the perspective / point of view of this movie been different, ie one that favored Col. Winter, my reaction to this movie would be very different. It is hard to comment on the actions of Col. Winter as the audience is shown only the bad of Col. Winter and the good of prisoner Irwin; one must not forget that these inmates are there for a reason. While this does not justify the actions of Col. Winter and his staff taken throughout the film, my opinion and that of most audiences of his orders is skewed in a direction favorable to the prisoners. With that being said, I don’t condone the actions of Col. Winter regardless of whatever crime an inmate may have been convicted of; and I say convicted of rather than guilty as in the words of Irwin, he is the only one that knows he is guilty. The irony of this movie that is built upon throughout is how a powerless Irwin rallies, inspires, and eventually commands the inmates, while the powerful warden Col. Winter loses control of the guards and eventually himself. At the beginning of the movie, Irwin comments on Col. Winter’s military collections saying that a collection like this belongs only to a man who has not served on the battlefield and while this is neither proven nor disproven, Irwin, the man with the experience, ultimately wins out. Whether he is victorious because he the character that the audience is meant to root for is questionable entirely but it is shown that inmates applied their skills learned on the battlefield to that of the battlefield created in the prison yard. It is hard for me to comment on this movie without comparing it to a typical prison movie, which I find The Last Castle to be where a character you feel sorry for dies, the bad guy gets what he deserves and the main character is in the end victorious, but I can conclude that this movie exhibits a case of camaraderie and unity among the inmates, and a fight for what one believes in which can be paralleled and applied to real life situations.

  9. Anson (Tzu-Chuan Chiu)

    Leadership definitely is the strongest emphasis of this movie. The warden, Colonel Winter, possesses the authority, but he was incompetent to handle “only one ex-general prisoner”. His leadership rested on the force alone, and this kind of leadership won’t last long. In contrast with the prisoner, General Irwin, his charisma and treating “subordinates” (not to the warden) with respect won him adoration of those prisoners. But I think both of them were not perfect.
    At the first glance, I don’t think the warden was trying to be picky with the general and his “followers”. Because the military should be highly disciplined, even irrational orders should be obeyed if the orders were made by high rank officers. The warden always conducted his punishment with previous warnings, which I think is absolutely right. But as the situation went worse and he couldn’t control over the whole prison, he made a lot of wrong decisions and tried to conceal the riot in jail to his superior.
    On the other hand, General Irwin obviously did not reset his mind to be a prisoner. When he was sent to the prison, the warden was trying to show his respect to the famous general, and even let the sentenced general visit his personal collections. However, the general’s cold remarks on the warden’s collections triggered their later confronting position. If the general could do things right at the beginning, to show his respect to the “high rank” officer, he might not be forced to revolt against the warden and finally lost his life.
    After watching this movie, I cannot stop imaging if I were any one of them, what I would do to this situation. To me, one of the strategies I can come up with for the General was to re-learn how to obey the order and to do what he said to the warden “doing [his] thing and then go home”. And one of the solutions for the Warden is, given his previous rank, to isolate the general from other prisoners, and give him a special treatment with respect, so that he won’t have chance to affect others.
    Absolutely a good movie and can induce a lot of thinking and discussions.

  10. This movie is a portrayal of what the word leadership truly means. This is demonstrated by two conflicting viewpoints coming from both Colonel Winter and General Eugene Irwin.
    Colonel Winter is the prison warden with unethical ways combined with a prominent use of total force as a means of control. Winter is also a firm believer in obeying rules and regulations at all times. Winter’s sense of leadership is clearly questionable and has several flaws. On the other hand there is General Irwin, whose definition of leadership is quite different than that of Winter’s. Irwin is a man with his own set of rules, which can never be compromised for any person or situation. Irwin is a true patriot and has an unwavering sense of respect. All the way to his powerful and symbolic death, Irwin displayed a different version of leadership.
    Overall, the message put forth here about the different points of view of leadership can clearly be applied on a much smaller and safer scale to the business world we will eventually take part in and have to deal with.

  11. What more can be added to the above summaries and analysis? One point I observed while watching the movie is the respect each leader demand/receives from the men, whether they are inmates or guards or those outside of the prison. Gen. Irwin is, as stated, a leader in a more unconventional term, and has a higher rank than that of his foil, Col. Winter. He is governed by a moral code that is not always in correspondence with that of the military which he serves. However, the rank he has attained, and the respect he has earned is something that Winter can never have. Winter commands respect from the inmates who must be subordinated to him, but none of them would follow him into battle as they did with Irwin. Winter uses his rank to lead, where as Irwin instills faith in others. One of the scenes that stands out most as an example of this would be the scene where Irwin moves the rocks back and forth across the yard. He doesn’t say as much as a word, but he becomes a symbol to the men of what a leader should be. The effort of Irwin to become one of the men and live by their rules makes him a more effective leader. This is shown in the last battle for the prison when Irwin, against all odds, leads the inmates in a successful revolt. Perhaps one of the ongoing themes that pertains to leadership in the movie is the need for acknowledgments of rank. Winter thinks that by not allowing the inmates to salute that the hierarchy of leadership will crumble. However, exactly the opposite happens. The respect the men have for each other is what makes the leadership effective, and the mock salute symbolizes only the respect for their fellow inmates, more powerful than the symbol of rank that it stands for outside the prison.

  12. This movie does a great job contrasting leadership styles, and in turn how a truly successful leader operates. By contrasting the characters of Col. Winter and Gen. Irwin, the viewer is witness to what leadership does in accomplishing a task. At first Col. Winter had the inmates building a wall, and the inmates called it “his” wall. Because they were not given a higher purpose or vision in what they were doing, the wall was constructed poorly and slowly.

    When Gen. Irwin began to win over the respect of his fellow inmates and had them all working on the wall, the outcome of their mission was realized in a completely different manner. By giving them a purpose, rather than the meaningless busy work Col. Winter gave them, the inmates realized not only the goal originally envisioned but were able to accomplish something bigger than all of their expectations.

  13. The theme of the movie is to reveal two typical types of leadership. One is from the prison’s warden Colonel Winter’s perspective, and the other is from General Irwin’s point of view.

    First of all, as the head of the prison, Col. Winter represents a leadership style that is harsh and disparaging. He initially has a lot of respect to this newly arrived prisoner General Irwin, and treats him differently than the rest of the prisoners. One clear scene is that when General Irwin teaches Aguilar to salute, an action that is firmly prohibited; only Aguilar the subordinate boy gets punished, and General Irwin is exempt even though he was told not to do so in this prison on day one. Col. Winter sets up his own rules and the whole prison operates based on his method. He tried to let General Irwin learn and understand how things are done here in his prison. Though violate and tough at times, he strives to control the prison strictly so that there will be no escape or riot. The problem is that his management seems outrageous and ignoring the manual of conduct in prisons. Col. Winter’s favoritism towards General Irwin starts to change when Irwin attempts to disobey the rules at the prison and argue about unfair manner to the prisoners. The conflict finally triggers a violate fight between all the prisoners and prison guards. Col. Winter’s leadership indeed deters certain inappropriate activities from happening, yet that also brings hatred from prisoners towards him. Enforcing his leadership style would be effective in dealing with people whose behaviors are abnormal or dangerous, and not feasible when his fellows are ordinary and diligent.

    On the other hand, General Irwin’s leadership style is built on his fame and self-centered treachery. Because of his so many victories and experiences on the battle fields, he earned himself an admiration and influence among all the prisoners automatically. His leadership style is to do whatever he believed right regardless of outside forces or regulations. The reason he is found guilty and put into this military prison is because his refusal to trust the intelligence agency and result of killing 8 soldiers. In the prison, he again doesn’t agree with the operating method set by Col. Winter and decides to fight against it. General Irwin’s problem is that he doesn’t seem to understand the rules and restrictions needed to be followed as an agent. His overconfidence and arrogance eventually drive him to unite the prisoners and empower himself as a leader to take over the prison. Perhaps General Irwin indeed has the charm, ability and courage to challenge the authority, yet his selfish treachery leads to serious consequences. Defending his beliefs and disobeying direct orders has already killed 8 men and several others during this prison riot. He may be influential and transformational as a leader, but he certainly has paid a significant price as a trade off by putting himself into jail and losing control at the end of the battle. Overall, this movie is suitable to see two obvious and characteristic leadership styles, and learn to balance our judgment and actions accordingly as a potential leader in the future.

  14. This movie is about leadership. Two contradictory men, Irwin and Winter, competed with each other. One is born to be a leader. Another one is born to want to be a leader. There are lots of scenes that Irwin challenged Winter and Winter tried to give Irwin a hard time. All these scenes showed characteristics a leader should equip- determination, talent, generous, and excellent communication skill, etc. Although the background of the story is happened in prison, what happened in the castle can also be happened in workplace. For instance, General Irwin is a leader in battle. He can also be a leader in prison. The leadership won’t be changed due to the surroundings. I believe that people like Irwin will be a leader even in business world as long as he can apply his ability in all circumstances. There is another example. Coercion is not always accepted by everyone in any place. Colonel Winter governed all prisoners by force without recognizing single person. Now if we change the situation to a company. A manager cares nothing about his fellows but cares about performance. Also, the manager regulates lots of strict rules to maintain disciplines. At first, people might obey the rules because of fearing to break the rule. As the time goes by; the employees will find a chance to overthrow the current leader eventually. I think that prison or workplace just like a miniature of society. Only a man with noble characteristic and leadership can pilot people to the right way.

  15. What is leadership?
    The fact that a criminal “leads” all the prisoners to confront the authority is leadership?

    If leadership means that most of the people around someone trust him and follow his steps to do something and no matter what thing to do, I will say Osama bin Laden is the leader of the leadership.

    In Winter’s view, Irwin is traitor. Irwin “leads” people to overthrow Winter.
    In views of Irwin, all the prisoners, screenwriter, most of the audiences, Irwin is an outstanding leader.

    In views of a lot of people whose country be bullied by USA, they think Osama bin Laden is an excellent leader.
    In views of Americans, they think Osama bin Laden is a terrorist.

    What is leadership?
    I have no idea so far.

  16. After watching this movie, I totally disagree with General Irwin. It is because I used to be a solider in my country. The most important thing in the military is obeying command. As a such high level solider, General Irwin could not follow commands in the prison. This is the thing I can not figure out. Even though Colonel Winter had done some faults, General Irwin should find some proper procures to solve these problems. However, I do admire General Irwin leading style. He gave everyone an applicable jobs and trust his subordinates. In addition, he also knows how to convince people. For example, he finally brought the guy who never though General Irwin will win this battle around his camps to operate the helicopter.
    All in all, I think General Irwin is really a good leader, but what he did in this movie I really can not agree with. What if everyone in the military or prison imitates his behavior, there will be no regulation in the world. Therefore, I do appreciate General Irwin. But everything should have a proper procure to deal with.

  17. In the film, there are two different types of leadership. Irwin, highly decorated officer general, was trying to follow the “rules” given by the Winter, the prison Colonel. Although Irwin tried to avoid troubles and obey Winter’s game, his characteristics, fame, and personality lead him to be a leader among prisoners. I do admire what he did in the movie. He showed the patient, waiting for the right time, and ability of organizing. I believe that leader has to be qualified with unique skills and strong personalities. On the other hand, I think Winter did nothing wrong, but just too far. He respected Irwin at first but, later on, he was trying to demonstrate who owns and controls the prison. This has been proven by the scene that he gave prisoners only one basketball to cause disorder. I would not say who is right or who is wrong, but just the way they performed their behavior. As a leader, one person should find suitable approaches to achieve their goals.

  18. I was fascinated how a simple movie could illustrate such a great example of leadership. The irony of the movie was the setting, a prison of misfits who are considered as violent and not fit for the society. The movie exhibits the two different styles of leadership. The movie also illustrates how even a bunch of misfits can be led with the right kind of leadership to achieve the most impossible of tasks. We could relate this example with our daily lives in our jobs or in school.
    Colonel Winter is a warden who looks after the prison and does so with tyranny. He has got all the power by his side. General Irwin is a decorated war officer who got imprisoned because of his refusal to listen to the intelligence. Because of his achievements in war he is treated with great respect by all the prisoners and the guards at the prison. Even though General Irwin hesitates at first to do anything about the mistreatment to the prisoners at the beginning he does show compassion to the prisoners since they were soldiers at one point of time. For example the General sees Aguilar as an unconfident person and advises him on how a marine should be. Aguilar salutes the General which creates a series of events since it is against the rules. Aguilar is punished and when it goes too far the General stands up against it and is severely punished. The General demonstrates strength and does not quit which ends in the prisoners respecting him even more. The prisoners are given to build a wall by Colonel Winter. The prisoners building the wall do not want to listen to Aguilar even though his father was in the masonry business. General Irwin supports Aguilar which ends up in the prisoners following Aguilar while building the wall. I was really fascinated by this as it showed that a leader not only leads but also teaches his followers how to lead and builds their confidence. Colonel Winter saw the teamwork and the collaboration of the prisoners and tried to break that by tearing down the wall and killing Aguilar. General Irwin asks the Colonel to resign from his position as the warden. General Irwin devises a plan to take over the prison so that the authorities see it and kick the Colonel from his position. Against all odds General Irwin and the prisoners in his command take over the prison at the end and don’t give up even in extreme conditions. The Colonel at the end has to give up the prison. The most touching part in the movie would have to be the time when the Colonel still holds the flag despite being shot more than once and still tries to pull it. It shows the commitment he gave to the goal and his followers which brings a good leader to greatness. Colonel leads his men by example, respect and compassion.
    The movie is a great example of true leadership and shows what qualities a leader should have and should not have.

  19. The Last Castle shows different aspects of leadership. Prisoner Irwin exemplifies what happens when leadership is followed correctly and incorrectly. He did not follow his leadership when in battle. The results of his actions were devastating. Eight of his men died and he was sent to a high security prison. While in prison, Irwin showed the positive aspects of following good leadership. He was able to give the undisciplined group of criminals a sense of purpose and meaning. As a group they were able to overthrow the unjust prison warden Col. Winter. Winter shows how leadership can be abused. He manipulated inmates to fight by only providing only basketball, unjustly tortured an inmate for disobeying by making him stand in the cold rain, and killed inmates with rubber bullets. Winter’s prison guards followed corrupt leadership, which resulted in a prison uprising and several senseless deaths. The Last Castle shows that leadership is a powerful tool and can be used justly or abused. Leadership should always be used correctly to bring individuals together to accomplish a collective goal.

  20. Leadership differs in that a true leader makes the followers want to achieve high goals. While a poor leader simply bosses people around taking advantage of his status. The Last Castle sets an exemplary example of what a good and bad leadership can do to the same group of people. Here in this case the prisoners.

    While Prison Warden – Colonel Winter though an authoritative figure, takes advantage of his position. He rules by undermining the inmate’s accomplishments, and engraves in a sense of low self esteem within them. As he truly believes that it is easy to manipulate men and keep them under control. And this he does for example by imposing rules of saluting according to ranks and not saluting among inmates. Here he tries to set an example of the importance of power he has. This is shown in the movie when Prisoner Anguilar salutes when he sees General Eugene Irwin, Colonel Winter comments by saying he has no rank and so it’s not right to salute people without ranks. Colonel Winter sets an example of an authoritative leader who basically wants to control the inmates not only by imposing rules. But by harsh treatment, substandard service and basic medical care.

    On the other hand General Eugene Irwin sets an example of a positive leader. And there is much to learn about his character to apply in the real business world. He sets a true example of charismatic and transformational leader. Firstly as a leader you have a set of goals and this can be best achieved if you know what the problems are within the area of concern. As he himself is an inmate, he tries to learn as much as he can about others. He tries to build a sense of self worth among inmates, as shown when he tells Prisoner Angular what the meaning of salute is. `A salute is about respect for yourself, the service and the flag’. Also on the other hand he tries to build confidence in his inmates as seen when he makes Anguliar aware of his achievements and that he sees him as more a Marine than a criminal. Also he comes across as a committed and a task achiever which is important in leadership role. He sets this example when he accomplishes the task of moving heavy stones as a punishment, irrespective of the circumstances.

    The turning point in this movie is when General – Eugene Irwin makes them rebuild the blockhouse wall to a wall of castle. He also praises the work done my inmates on building this wall. All of his actions and words creates a sense of trust among other inmates which helps in further execution of the tasks. Also as a true leader he plans strategies in consideration of other inmates and takes into account their strengths. Even when he knows that Prisoner Yates is against his strategies, he sees strength in him and offers him to join the team. And last but not the least he accomplishes the task himself by raising the flag.

    The key leadership attributes such as belief, value, character, knowledge and skill is what the character General – Eugene Irwin plays upon. Also the key leadership concepts such as influence, communication, team work, motivation and goal attainment comes across very clearly. There is a lot one can take from this movie.

  21. In this movie, the director clearly depicted two different leadership managements which were conducted by General Eugene Irwin and Colonel Winter. Apparently the charisma Gen. Irwin possessed had his followers trust him and be loyal to him. His consistency, his empowerment to his followers, his vision, and strategies lead to such remarkable charisma. In the last scene, even though he is a always fighter, he ordered his followers to obey the rule which he couldn’t care less on his own to save the lives of his followers. From here, we can see the sympathy and unselfish faiths which a leader has to care about his followers and make them in loyalty rather than to exploit the power and force which Colonel Winter adopted to manage his subordinates.
    As for consistency, we can easily recognize that the General Irwin set the rational and consistent rules to manage his subordinates. In contrary, with the fear to General Irwin, Colonel Winter seems not to have rules but press his subordinates and prisoners to obey what he said. People are easily lost in their own way whenever they face foes in greater competences or higher positions than themselves. The eventual winners always are the ones who know who they are and what they want to do. The losers would be the ones who chase the tails of their enemies and are led and influenced by their foes.
    Last but not least, in the movie we see the power seizure in cruel reality. Colonel Winter as a warden is the power center in the prison even though General Irwin was used to be in higher rank than he has. However, the leadership does not only count on power, but what in depth is the courage and guts leasers have to surpass the meaning of rank and title.

  22. Zeta (Jiaxi Chen)

    The Last Castle, depicts a straightforward struggle between warden Colonel Winter and a former 3-star general Eugene Irwin, adequately summed up by its tag line: “No castle can have two kings.”
    Based upon the leadership management ,in this movie,castles and kings refer not only to territory and authority, but also to specific business industry and power of the leaders. It turns out that Winter and Irwin used different ways to manage the prisoner (like employees) to capture the national flag( the success of business).Winter runs his ship-shape prison through manipulating, bullying, and even occasionally murdering the helpless inmates. But General Irwin, the great American hero, has organized the prisoners and whipped them back into soldiers. Then he decides to take over the prison in order to overthrow the evil warden to capture the flag(become the winner of business).
    The issue which is concerned in this movie is about what’s the good and effective leadership. I agree with Philip St. Clair ‘s opinion about the transaction/transformation leader in this movie. Irwin is charismatic, honest and proud. He also undoubtedly engages in transformational leadership with his prisoners. He is worshiped by the prisoners and also sets a good example to show them how to manage the business successfully. Colonial Winters is strongly focused on transactional leadership. He commands the inmates simply and uses anyway he can to push inmates to follow him. An effective leadership asks the leader to communicate with his subordinates(employees).But Winters neglects his subordinates and cares about himself as an individual, he even uses the unethical way to punish inmates in order to gain his own goal/success. Irwin,on the other hand,entrusts the inmates and treats everyone like a team member to win the success of their business. In a word , Irwin empowers his followers but Winter controls his prisoners.
    At the end of the movie, Winters was terrified and lost his control over the castle, which means that only using transactional leadership can’t work out. But Irwin ,although he captures the national flag and wins the success but he loses his life which costs his the most .
    In conclusion , this movie is a typical issue that concerns about the most effective leadership. I’m wondering that maybe sometime a good leader does need to sacrifice himself and gains the eventual success according to the benefit of the team. But that’s not what I expected .To me, I bet it will be a better and smarter idea that leaders can find a effective leadership to gain a win-win situation(win-win situation of leader and business).

  23. Venkata S Mudunuru

    This movie is about a highly decorated three-star general, Eugene Irwin, who is sent to prison under the command of a ruthless prison warden, Colonel Winter. A conflict arises in the first scene where Col. Winter, a long-time admirer of General Irwin, asks the general to sign his copy of Irwin’s book on military strategy. While Winter goes off-camera to retrieve the book, Irwin engages in a conversation with an orderly over Colonel Winter’s collection of old war artifacts. When Irwin states that anyone that collects such things has never seen real battle, Col. Winter overhears him, and turns his target sites towards the General. This conflict becomes mutual when Irwin sees the unjust management of the prison by Col. Winter and solidarity develops between him and his fellow prisoners. He quickly befriends most of them, bringing order and cohesiveness to the group. Several scenes throughout the movie exemplify his leadership decisions and articulation. His leadership traits are reflected with the statement made by the Winter that, “He is building a structure of loyalty and offering them self respect.” His character further portrays a situational leader who plans his moves with the available limited resources (using chess coins for positioning),assigns the tasks, delegates the responsibilities and supervises the performance. On the other hand, Col. Winter starts losing control of his own prison due to his unethical behavior towards the inmates and negative leadership traits. His own subordinates refuse to obey him towards the end of the movie whereas the inmates readily accept and follow Irwin’s instructions by the influence of his charismatic persona.

    The triggering element of the movie is the small wall that Colonel Winter allows the prisoners to rebuild. The wall symbolizes Colonel Winter’s leadership (formal leader). When Irwin begins to build himself an army, the prisoners’ then knock down the wall only to rebuild it under their new leadership (informal leader). To sum up, the movie leaves us with two questions: Are leaders born, or could anybody be made into a leader? What decisions we, as leaders, are willing to make for a cause that we believe is right?

  24. Carol Luong (MGMT 540)

    The obvious concept that comes to mind while watching The Last Castle is leadership. We clearly see two characters each exhibiting two opposing types of leadership: transactional leadership vs transformational leadership. The movie agrees with the textbook definitions of each leadership style and demonstrates that transformational leadership is more effective than transactional leadership. Through charisma, motivation, and inspiration, General Irwin was able to regain the positive spirits of his fellow inmates and successfully bring them together to fight for the common goal of removing Colonel Winter from his “throne.”

    However, does General Irwin’s successful transformational leadership style alleviate the unethical measures that he and his men took against the warden? Can we actually praise the stealing, violence, and deceit? Is being unethical more acceptable in the “war” setting or is ethics just defined differently when in “war,” in comparison to the business setting? Is it okay to fight evil with evil if it is for the common good?

  25. Ariana Axelrod

    This movie does an excellent job of contrasting two different types of leadership approaches. The first approach of Colonel Winter was corrupt and unethical, while the second approach of General Irwin was respectful and much more effective. Colonel Winter’s job was to monitor the prisoners and keep order by enforcing positive leadership skills. However, instead, he tried to manipulate prisoners, used torture to control, gave them the daunting task of building a wall, and ultimately ended up killing one of his prisoners. Col. Winters leadership tactics were shown to be ineffective, and caused him to eventually lose his position.

    When compared to the leadership skills of General Irwin, it is seen the Irwin’s tactics were much more successful. Irwin gained the respect of his inmates, rather than trying to instill fear within them. Irwin encouraged his followers to complete the task of building the wall, and gave them a purpose, while Winters did not. He also lead the inmates in an attempt to overturn Winters. Although this lead to several deaths, his followers still respected him. He encouraged them to believe that even though they were in prison they still had the right to be treated like people rather than abused. He gave them hope and a common goal, which is important to achieve effective leadership.

    This movie was a good choice for this class and a good supplement to the required readings.

  26. The Last Castle had many intriguing insights into the realm of leadership that may be applicable within the business world today. The movie illustrates two contrasting methods of leadership. Colonel Winter, the warden, exemplified an authoratative leader that used scare tactics and fear to govern his subordinates. Contrastly, Mr. Irwin used inpiration to help guide his fellow inmates.

    Winter governed his prison with an iron fist. Essentially, it was his way or the highway. Winter used fear and manipulation to achieve order in his prison. It can be shown, by the outcome of the movie, that this type of rule can cause the walls to come crashing down on top of the leader, quite literally in the movie. Winter first lost the respect of his inmates after they decided to follow Irwin’s rule and not fear Winter anymore. Winter then lost the respect and loyalty of his own men at the end of the movie when they disobeyed his orders even in the wake of blatant insubordination.

    On the other hand, Irwin was effective in gaining the respect and loyalty of his men by teaching, inspiring and by giving choices. Irwin accomplished this beautifully. First, he gained the respect of his men by proving to them that he was no different than they were. He refused special treatment and did not break in front of the inmates during his discipline. He then gained their loyalty by instilling a sense of comradery among the inmates. He accomplished this by having them rebuild the wall as a team, which also helped them from fueding among each other and by gaining a sense of mutual respect. He then inspired them to reach towards a common goal (resignation of Winter). He was very successful in guiding his men to the right choices. He never explicitly told them what to do but helped them figure out the answers along the way. It turns out that this form of leadership is quite successful and when performed properly, it has extraordinary results.

  27. Chin-Hsiang Lin

    In this film, we can see the two types of the leaders. In his view and on his best behavior, Irwin was getting prisoners’ support and royalty and finally, he could challenge to fight for the warden, Winter, who was the actual leader in the jail.
    In other aspect, Winter did not reflect his past mistakes. What the leadership he thought is the way to force the prisoners to follow his rules. The prominent problem of his is he never looked up how the position he made became seriously bad. He just wanted to be a good leader other than learning how to be a good leader.
    There is no doubt that an excellent leader must be highly respected by everyone. What is more, being befriend and patient with others when they get in troubles are also major factors of being a successful leader. I think these are three elements of a good leadership owned by Irwin to complete the whole plan, to fight for Winter and win the battle.

  28. Kuo-Shen Huang

    I think General Irwin has spectacular characteristic so that every prisoners would like to follow his order. How to let everyone obey leader plays a significant role for any group. At first, you must have ability of leadership like well-organized. No one can learn this particular personality in short period. Take General Irwin as an example, why can he become the leader in this prison? I think endurance and the spirit of not giving up leads him to be a successful leader(moving stone as a penalty ordered by military). When watching movies, I deeply considerate why General Irwin can be respected by others but now the answer is obvious after watching the last part of movie since General Irwin can do anything such as sacrificing his life to his group. Compared to the other military leader, no one would like to follow his command since he only cares about what power he own, how to command to subordinates , and how cocky he is. Finally, he becomes a unsuccessful leader.
    The other point I want to concentrate on is cooperation in one group. Cooperation could make considerable strength. Like movie, as long as everyone makes great efforts to do the same task, it could be easily done quickly and efficiently(like stone wall). I think any group with great cooperation would complete any job readily.
    Consequently, I think I have to nurture this characteristic in my daily life. I need to imitate those successful leaders in this society so that my subordinates would follow my order sincerely if one day I become leader.

  29. The movie and the idea of a leadership, which targeted to influence the viewers, were completely different than what i expected. Biggest leadership aspect, in my opinion, is leading by example and i did not see any leading by example by the general in this movie (perhaps leading in the battlefield was a different scenario, they did not show anything like that in the movie and everything was left for viewers’ imaginations). The movie tried to emphasize how a great leader General Irwin is, but leading bunch of criminals into a riot does not require great leadership skills. If they have focused on the battleship or war parts of the story, then we would maybe have ourselves a leader but i did not find anything important in this movie to show me a true leadership skills. It was an entertaining movie though.

  30. The film “The Last Castle” contains a great deal of information about leadership styles and personal ethics that is of direct relevance to the world of business and management. In the movie, the former Lt. Gen. Eugene Irwin illustrates some of the key facets of transformational leadership in that he strives to better those around himself and aid others in becoming better leaders themselves. The transformational model of leadership is highly regarded in today’s business world as being the superior form of leadership as it aids in the professional development of all of the involved individuals. This form of leadership naturally draws followers (as clearly illustrated in the film) and generally leads to a positive team atmosphere and a high level of group motivation. Leaders who employ the transformational model are often quite charismatic (as is Mr. Irwin), well liked by the members of the group, and devoted to serving those who are involved in the team. An opposing leadership model, transactional leadership, is used by Col. Winter. This arguably more traditional leadership theory is less concerned with the personal growth of a team’s members and is substantially more task-oriented. As the name suggests, this form of leadership establishes a sort of “give-and-take” approach to accomplishing a goal. This leadership style is often used within organizations that have a very rigid hierarchical structure (such as the military) and generally leads to a lower level of team member satisfaction and motivation. As illustrated by Col. Winter in the movie, transactional leaders will often use the threat of punishment as leverage to gain compliance out of those whom they lead. Although it seems quite clear from the content of the film that Mr. Irwin’s leadership style is meant to be viewed as superior, I would argue that both leadership styles have a proper time and place for implementation. Although Col. Winter is portrayed in a very negative light in the film, I would argue that his transactional leadership approach is most fitting for the situation in which he must lead. Within the confines of a prison setting, it is of prime importance to clearly establish the roles of individual followers and ensure that the task of keeping the prisoners under control is carried out.

    A very important secondary issue presented in “The Last Castle” is the topic of ethics in leadership. While it is clear that Mr. Irwin is meant to be the hero of the story, I would definitely argue that his actions throughout the plot of the storyline were largely inappropriate and unnecessary. Although Col. Winter is certainly guilty of immoral conduct in the manner in which he administrates his prison, his crimes were not so grievous that they justified the hostile takeover of the prison by the inmates. I must agree to some extent with Col. Winter that Mr. Irwin is somewhat addicted to personal glory and cannot accept his new role as a follower. I have a great deal of trouble with simply labeling Mr. Irwin as the champion of the story and Col. Winter as the villain given the fact the Mr. Irwin was willing to risk numerous innocent lives in the course of taking over the prison with violence. I believe that this facet of the storyline brings to point the issue of whether the end justifies the means in the mission that Mr. Irwin is trying to accomplish. I would argue that a truly ethical leader would, by necessity, reject consequentialism and embrace deontology. From the perspective of deontological ethics, I most certainly do not believe that Mr. Irwin’s actions were justified.

  31. The Last Castle teaches many lessons about leadership, especially how the different styles of leadership can affect different people. General Irwin displays all the physical traits you would expect from a leader and attempts to gain the trust of all the other prisoners by example and based off his reputation. He also gains a great deal of credibility as a leader by being held to the same standards as the other prisoners. Also, through his experience of having made a mistake he is able to relate more easily to the prisoners and does not treat any of his fellow inmates as inferior.
    On the other hand Col. Winter tries to control the prisoners through means of brutal force. While the prisoners are mostly willing to tolerate many harsh treatments from the prison, they are unwilling to accept the attacks and most importantly the death of prisoners because of “misfires”. The inmates hope to use the positive reputation of General Irwin to help remove Col. Winter as the warden. Initially Gen. Irwin is unwilling to help out, but upon witnessing the harshness of the guards, when all that was happening was the creation of a wall and the build up of relationships, the General decides to help them.
    This leads to the planning of a takeover attempt of the prison. One main point of leadership from this movie is the decision by Yates on which side he will choose. He chooses to side with General Irwin because he appeals to his mostly good nature, while Col. Winter only tries to appeal to his mistake and assumes that he will rat out the plan of Gen. Irwin. The lessons from this movie on leadership are great and it shows that when viewing a movie with a topic in mind, more insight can be drawn from its’ contents.

  32. Daniel Pokidaylo

    “The Last Castle” had two contrasting leader’s who consistently and tactically fought each other throughout the film. Mind games, strategy, and leadership qualities are some of the differences between the two men, and the audience could easily point out the disparities between the two men.

    General Irwin was not a great father to his daughter, but as a great military leader, was able to use his intelligence and wherewithal to lead his fellow inmates past the tyrannical Colonel Winter. General Irwin was respectful of every inmate in the prison when talking with them. He treated everyone as an individual rather then treating them all as inmates. His knowledge of the history of the military from medieval times, to his own past history, was enough to influence all the men of his brilliance. In addition, General Irwin proved his own worth by being punished and completing the task of moving bricks from one pile to another. In being able to complete the task, he showed everyone exactly what kind of leader he was. He refused to give up and quit when times were tough. His leadership qualities and intelligence in strategizing how to take over the prison brought all the inmates to work together and give up petty differences. General Irwin was a great leader.

    Colonel Winter’s lack of leadership qualities led to his demise at the end of the film. From the very beginning of the film, the audience was able to see his ability to instigate the inmates by leaving them one basketball to play with, and how much satisfaction he received by watching everyone fight. In contrast to General Irwin, Colonel Winter used fear and punishment to try and influence and scare the prisoners, rather then try to show them the proper way to carry themselves in the prison. He treated everyone the same, and did not identify any individuality between people, which lead them to seek General Irwin’s help to obtain the resignation of Colonel Winter. Although Colonel Winter was also a smart man, he used his intelligence to destroy moral rather than build it up for the good of the prison, and his pessimistic attitude led to the destruction of his prison.

  33. The Last Castle demonstrates two contrasting styles of leadership. The first style is portrayed through Colonel Winter. He is the top man in a military prison, yet he lacks any true military experience. While he seems to be an orderly man that is attentive to detail, the truth is he pays attention to all of the wrong information. His cares are how nice is the flag folded, does his collection look polished and impressive, and will inspecting superiors believe he is doing a good job. He thinks that he can gain the respect of others through this appearance, but his guise of leadership leaves much to be desired by those who should conform to his command. He lacks any “in the trenches” leadership, never having set foot on the battle field, no in extremis split decisions and it shows as the plot unfolds. He is all about maintaining coercive power, not about properly correcting and disciplining his prisoners so that they can reenter society as changed men. His total loss of command demonstrates this improper use of power is only a poor substitute for leadership.

    General Irwin demonstrates a more true leadership, one that involves exchange between leader and follower. He follows a code of honor, and initially is not looking to intentionally disrupt any authority. He does not seek to escape his punishment or gain special treatment above other inmates. Eventually he endures harsh discipline when it was called for, which he is able to handle, despite his obvious age difference from other inmates. By being “one of them” Irwin gains the right to lead the other inmates, he does not presume authority until it is actually given to him. Once wielding the power, he is constantly teaching those around him through example, never forcing the answer on anyone, but always offering solid grounding and a choice for anyone considering following him. Even Yates, despite his lack of any moral grounding, eventually is allowed to make a choice on his own freewill to join Irwin. Even the lowest men in the prison find inspiration in Irwin’s inspirational, hands on, lead by example style and transform from pitiful men to men of great valor.

    By the end of the movie, it is clear that we must distinguish between coercive power and true leadership that involves proper exchange and learning between leader and follower. Irwin obviously demonstrates the latter is the superior style in the situation.

  34. Lauren Spielberg

    The Last Castle demonstrated two different types of leadership through two different people. Col. Winter used manipulation to lead the inmates. He also used force, power, cruelty, and misguidance. Most people would agree that although using fear and force may get you what you want initially, it isn’t necessarily effective in the long run. As seen through The Last Castle, the followers became tired of the ridiculous antics that Col. Winter forced upon them and eventually rebelled.

    General Irwin on the other hand is a leader who most people wouldn’t mind being led by. He leads by example and shows his power by doing tasks such as when he had to move the heavy rocks back and forth all day as punishment. He also uses respect to gain fellowship. In addition, General Irwin listens to his followers to find out what their wants and needs are so that he can make an attempt to fulfill them. General Irwin’s leadership was best displayed when he and all of the inmates rallied together to try and overtake the castle and force Col. Winter to resign.

  35. Rachael Schwartz

    My first thought concerning leadership in The Last Castle stems from the idea of respect. In my opinion true leadership cannot be obtained without a clear respect between the commander and his followers. However, the origin of this respect is questioned in the film. Can the power to lead come with only a title, or must it be earned?
    While the movie brings up this question quite clearly through interactions between Gen Irwin and Col Winter; the most blatant form of this idea can be seen through the actions of the character Aguilar. Aguilar, a somewhat simple-minded man, would be expected to follow orders based on given rank, and thus give his respect to Winter. But instead of following the viewers expectations Aguilar disobeys this authority when he chooses to salute Irwin. The salute itself is a sign of respect and authority, and its ironic use to disobey authority shows the true origins of leadership and respect.

  36. In the movie, The Last Castle, it pictured two types of leaders represented by Colonel Winter and Eugene Irwin. Colonel Winter, an authoritative leader, managed his subordinates by using cruel methods. Eugene Irwin, an rational leader which is totally different from Colonel Winter, always know how to let inmates trust him spontaneously.

    In my opinion, a charming leader has to have a kind of ability to let his or her followers a hundred percent trust he or she and win everyone’s respect. Like General Irwin, he leads his inmates by using examples and win everyone’s respect.

  37. Clearly, a major theme throughout The Last Castle is leadership. Much has already been posted regarding the types of leaders that both former Lt. Gen. Eugene Irwin and Col. Winter were, so I wanted to comment on specific examples of leadership in the film. In addition, I think it is relevant to comment on the two different moral philosophies of Irwin and Col. Winter.

    One memorable scene was the one in which former Marine Corporal Roman Aguilar received punishment for breaking a major prison rule (i.e., saluting) and in the rain Irwin came to his defense. Irwin knew that stopping the hand of Capt. Peretz would result in his own punishment, but as a leader he was seeking to correct an injustice. This example relates to a concept I recently came across in Thomas A. Kolditz book In Extremis Leadership. In chapter two of Koditz’s book he outlines nine lessons that can be learned from “in extremis leaders” (i.e. leaders operating in high-risk environments). Lesson Two is “Sharing Risk Strengthens Credibility and Can Improve a Leader’s Effectiveness in Situations Involving Risk”. By defending Aguilar, Irwin essentially shared the risk of being punished.

    Another memorable scene was when Irwin and his followers executed their plan to overthrow the leadership (i.e., Col. Winter) in the prison. Their objective was not to escape, but to simply show Brig. Gen. James Wheeler that Col. Winter was unfit to run the prison. In the action-packed final scene we see Irwin giving orders to his superiors in an organized manner and commanding leadership. Kolditz mentions in his book that when in high-risk situations, most subordinates consider competence to be the most important attribute of a good leader. Clearly, Irwin was competent because he relayed most of his orders to former Sgt. Maj. Dellwo, who before his imprisonment had one of the highest possible rankings for an enlisted soldier in the military.

    The real divide between Irwin and Col. Winter was in their approach to morality. While Irwin was more of a non-consequentialist, Col. Winter was much more of a consequentialist. That is, Col. Winter believed that the ends always justified the means (e.g. ordering the headshots of prisoners). Ultimately, Irwin was a more effective leader than Col. Winter because Brig. Gen. Wheeler eventually relieved Col. Winter of his command and had him arrested.

  38. Jennifer Gilligan

    “The Last Castle” portrays two very different forms of leadership. The two main characters in the movie are used to demonstrate these two forms. General Eugene Irwin demonstrates leadership by example and also by gaining the respect of the inmates. Most of the inmates are aware of General Irwin’s reputation and how he was a great leader in numerous wars. Because of this they have much respect for him. Another way General Irwin gains respect for the men is when he moves the piles of heavy stones for the wall. He treats the inmates as though they are his soldiers. Irwin teaches them to stand up for their rights. He helps to give the men confidence, which many have lost while being in prison. Through these tactics General Irwin leads the population of the prison and takes control of the prison.

    The other type of leadership portrayed in this movie was leading by fear. Colonel Winters demonstrates this type of leadership. The men in the prison, including the workers, fear Colonel Winters and only out of fear do they follow his lead. Since Colonel Winters has been in charge there have been several incidences where inmates are killed “accidently”. I think he purposefully has the men killed in order to show the other inmates what will happen if they step out of line. Violence is the only power Colonel Winters has over the inmates. This is not an effective way to lead a group, and as we see in the movie does not work for a long period of time. Because of his poor leadership skills he loses control over the prison, inmates, workers, and himself.

  39. Irwin stated at the first beginning, all he wanted was to do the time and then go home. If there is something being changed afterward, the lack of basic rights could be the reason.

    It is reasonable that the people who were sent to prison violated other people’s right and should pay for it. I think in most countries, the function of prison is not only punishment but also educate. If the leader misunderstands the aim and function of the organization, it could be a disaster. In the movie, Colonel Winter did whatever he could to ensure the security and absolutely obedience by violence which aimed at scaring the prisoners. His action turned out to be useful, temporarily. Unfortunately, he paid no attention to the basic rights of prisoners by treating them as “animals” and “enemies”. His action added up the flames and caused fire when no one could stand it.

    Respect is among the most important features in leadership. Under most circumstances, people behave themselves if they are respected by others. The strict management and rules should be set and carried out but not at the price of losing people’s heart. At the end of the movie, all the people were backing up Irwin, which shows rules and command not always work.
    Irwin won the heart of other inmates not only because his previous reputation, but most importantly, because he was fighting for something right. As a leader, he showed high respect for others and was willing to take responsibilities; he cared not only himself but the rights for all. That is quite different from Colonel. All Colonel cared was his position; all he was afraid of was losing the face. Those were proved by his proud when told Irwin about his “good management”, and also proved by his tempt to hide the fact that the prison was out of control. The different motivation drives the different behavior.

    Although I think Irwin could also try to work in other ways to solve the problem and reduce the unnecessary satisfaction and damage, I do respect him for his courage and leadership skills. Admittedly, the leadership skills are varied due to the different features of profession, but the basic ideas such as respect, vision and motivation are suitable for all.

    To relate the movie to reality, remind me of the management of prison in China. Most prison set the goals as regulate and educate. Prisoners have rights to study and work, they produce products which go to the market. Moreover, they are educated by required courses and selective courses. I actually know a person who has been with the prisoners for years, and he told us that some officers give prisoners really harsh treatment which seems good in terms of regulating them. Meanwhile, some officer may choose to educate them and give them opportunities to learn, and even give birthday presents to prisoners. The latter really earned respects and had higher performance in work. The thing is that educating prisoners could be time-consuming and may not 100% be paid, most officers do not do it well.

    It may not proper to compare Irwin and Colonel since they are in different position, and the leadership skills required are different. But in my belief, no matter which team you lead, respect and consideration of the benefits of team members should always be emphasized.

  40. This movie is a really good example of leadership, ethics and morality. Among those, leadership is the most emphasis in this movie. So, what is the true leadership? We can see that the general Irwin is considered a good leader by the prisoners in this case. He is smart, creative, passionate, self-confidence, decisiveness, understanding of followers and experienced. What’s more important, he definitely has a great influence on the prisoners. He knows how to communicate with people and make himself understood.

    There are different types of leadership styles, such as transactional leadership style and transformational leadership style. Obviously, Irwin is transformational leader type, which is highly visible, focus on the big picture and need to be surrounded by people who take care of the details. During the clash, he doesn’t directly take a part in the conflict. He stands apart, observes the situation and then gives right orders to prisoners. As for Colonial Winters, he is too controllable and only knows how to give orders. In addition, the prisoners who disobey the rules will cause punishment, even death. He is more likely a transactional leader. One of the evidences in the movie is Winter said to Irwin that no one has died and no one has escaped since he begins to take charge of the prison, which seems he cares about his own accomplishment more than anything else.

    At last, Colonial Winter knows Irwin is trying to raise his American flag upside down. He orders the soldiers to shoot Irwin but no one listen to him. Winter does it himself and then be arrested. Finally, everyone see the flag’s in the right direction. I am deeply moved when everyone, including the soldiers and prisoners, salute towards the flag. Though Irwin’s actions lead someone dead, he is a great leader. He has a great influence on people and tried his best to make others good too.

    In business world, both types exist. The transactional leaders work within the organizational culture as it exists while the transformational leader changes the organizational culture. There are circumstances where each of these styles would be appropriate. In a situation where the goal and expectation are set, the transactional leaders are more appropriate. The Transformational leaders are likely to cope with complex and uncertainty situations. However, I think it’s impossible to find the universal truth for leadership; we need to consider factors in all respects.

  41. This was the second time I had seen The Last Castle. I observed the movie trying to find leadership qualities in General Irwin. The main feeling that I took from the movie this time was that Irwin knew how to motivate the prisoners. Everyone wants something and by figuring out what the prisoners wanted Irwin was able to motivate them. A leadership quality in Irwin that I liked was that he did not immediately expect the prisoners to do what he wanted. Instead he showed them that if they followed him that their mutual goals could be accomplished. Another factor that helped in his leadership was the fact that he did not have an agenda for himself. He seemed to only be driven by the knowledge that he should do the “right thing”. The movie gives me a strong feeling that Irwin’s methods of leadership cannot be taught. He seems to have a skill with people that goes beyond anything learned. He is portrayed as being born to lead (regardless of weather he wants to or not).

  42. Leadership is a difficult concept to convey, however the movie does an outstanding job at portraying all aspects of leadership; bad, good, and the process of learning to become a leader. Leadership takes on many forms, being part of a team, leading those above you, and, the traditional thought of leadership, leading those below you.

    The movie starts of with a key concept of leadership, motivation and vision. “Everybody in the castle is there to protect the flag” is a solid mission that motivates people and can be easily shared and understood. I would like to go into the aspects of leadership through an analysis of the characters of this movie and their leadership traits.

    The movie begins with the prison manager (Colonel Winter) expressing his respect and admiration of General Irwene (“the prisonor should be a war hero”). However one quickly realizes that the prison manager is a shallow individual who can not handle the truth and is easily slighted by a small comment. His lack of leadership, from this point on, is continuously reinforced by his actions. He know how to manipulate them, but uses this tool for the wrong reason (starts a fight by allowing only one basketball), and never leads – he tries to instill fear instead and thus never gains respect. He views his actions as a game and though he understands leadership, chooses not to follow it and rationalizes his actions by seeing only the evil in men.

    General Irwene on the other hand is the exact opposite, he is a leader in every aspect. In the beginning one feels that he has given up, but once he is challenged he proves himself. His leadership shows itself in multiple ways, beginning with him remembering the names of all the individuals serving under him (ex. remembering the medic). He then goes on and is willing to listen, to build up the confidence of those around him and, as a true leader should, sees everybody as a “10”. This confidence enables others to stand strong and on their two feet, and yet his leadership is further strengthened when he is willing to defend those that are loyal to him (like Aguilar) and taking punishment like anybody else, with his head raised high. He then furthers his popularity by sharing his winnings. Furthermore, by building up his men and restoring rank, honor, and respect to them wins their “hearts and minds” – the key challenge of any leader!!

    Then there are the number of individuals who grow to be leaders, Aguilar, fellow prisoners, the “bookie” and the assistant to the prison manager. These men learnt to become confident, understand that leadership is winning the hearts of men and learn to stand strong for their beliefs – They learn to be leaders…

  43. As many others observed, ‘The Last Castle’ displays two major themes regarding leadership. One is leading by respect (Gen. Irwin) and the other is via fear (Winter.) As was previously said, Gen. Irwin entered the prison, observed actions that he thought were wrong, felt he could use his abilities to invoke change, and brought the other inmates together in order to make that change a reality.

    On the other side of the coin, Winter rules with a strict and fearful hand. Some inmates meet ‘accidental’ deaths and he is particularly harsh on Irwin later in the film.

    Although the film does a great job of bringing out these different leadership styles and pitting them against one another, I think it tends to somewhat oversimplify the situation. It seems that leading by fear is horrible and ultimately destructive while leading via gaining respect is wonderful and is always the better method.

    I would certainly agree that murdering inmates is wrong, but that doesn’t mean that some element of fear is completely incorrect in every leadership situation. While the movie tends to lay things out in a black and white manner, it may be that leading by fear, by respect or by blending both styles together may be successful depending on the particular situation and people involved.

  44. Jeff Wolniewicz

    The Last Castle is an exemplary Hollywood take on the different outcomes of leadership styles. The movie displays the difference between effective and ineffective leadership. I was impressed and excited to pick up a couple different leadership concepts that we have learned throughout our time in the MBA program. The concepts displayed in the movie were transactional and transformational leadership, and the five bases of power. Colonel Winter used them ineffectively while General Irwin used them to his advantage.

    Colonel Winter proved to be an ineffective leader because he used transactional leadership and improper bases of power. Transactional leadership is only marginally effective. It offers only extrinsic motivation to the followers. The leader provides the follower with no reasoning to go above and beyond the call of duty. Winter utilized legitimate and coercive as his bases of power. These are two of the least effective bases in the long run and they were displayed as such in the movie. Winter utilized legitimate through his title as Colonel and coercive through his brutal tactics and use of corporal punishment. These means became ineffective because the prisoners had no respect for him and were the reason he was able to be overtaken by Irwin.

    Irwin was able to gain the support of the prisoner soldiers because he was a transformational leader that utilized reward and expert as his bases of power. Transformational leadership is effective because it uses intrinsic motivation. Irwin was able to make the soldiers strive for more and regain their honor. He did this by taking individual time to help each one, making them realize that they had a lot to be proud of, and by treating them as equals. He earned the respect of the men. He also had their respect because of illustrious record as a General. The men knew his resume and he had expert power because of it. He also was able to utilize reward power. For the men banding behind him he was able to offer them their honor back as well as get them back their right to fair treatment.

    Irwin’s character in The Last Castle is a shining example of what every leader should strive to be. He gained leadership by respecting the soldiers and inspiring them to reach higher. He overtook Colonel Winter because he only used power and coercion to control the soldiers. The Last Castle was an enjoyable movie and a great example of leadership showing that it is far better to be respected than feared.

  45. Chang, Ting-Chia

    After seeing this move, I figure out that the business field is like battlefield.
    The secret of success is that you can move faster than competitors and hide your real goal behind your movement. Then you can surprise everyone and beat them in a blink. Just like the strategy of General Irwin, he transferred his enemies’ attention to flag, but his real goal is to occupy the plaza.
    On the other way, in this film, General Irwin showed high quality of leadership. A good leader must be trust by his subordinates. The first step is to do as they do. General Irwin is willing to suffer the harsh punishment. This action made other prisoners feel “we are on the same boat”. They are willing to follow Irwin’s step.
    In spite of the exaggeration, this movie really touched my heart and gave me some inspiration.

  46. “The Last Castle” reflects the real world about leadership and we can apply it to any field, especially business. I have seen top managers like Winter who is very aggressive, but not experienced, want to have control over people, but don’t know deterrence-based trust won’t last long. I think a smart leader should care more about others’ behavior and goal. Once everybody on the same boat has the same goal, power is from leadership, but not from coercive control. The other point I would like to mention is that leadership is a topic more about people and no specific rule to follow. Winter thinks that the only way to control people is to use military law and creat a fearful atmosphere, which would only work if people don’t intend to change anything bad. Nowadays, people think of human right as the most important thing and have enough knowledge to protect them from harm, so only respect and consideration can lead to strong leadership.

  47. I think the film provides a great deal of examples about “ leadership”. In my point of view, simply speaking, a good leader should have clear goals and right direction. Besides, he/she is able to encourage people by using the positive way.
    In order to achieve these goals, it is necessary that a good leader is sensitive to what around him/her. He/she also likes to communicate and tends to know the desires in others’ mind. Via these desires, leaders could then encourage others. While fulfilling himself/herself, a leader could also contribute to the whole organization.
    Furthermore, a good leader should behave him/herself, taking the lead for everything. A great leader not only asks but guides. Thus he/she should have the professional background knowledge. For example, the general explained the origin of saluting and then made it meaningful to the soldier.

  48. “The Last Castle” acts classically to pit the protaganist General Irwin against his foil Colonel Winters in a clash displaying two divergent methods of leadership. In regards to business methods, the leadership displayed in this film translates well, as their is no cookie-cutter technique as to how business operations should be handled, though particular characteristics of leaders inculcate feelings of mutual respect and reverence that aid in specific situations. For example, Winters displays the cold sentiments of an iron-fist type ruler who allows for no deviation to arise from his orders. Now, situationally, this brand of leadership has its place and can be very effective in the business world, though it must not be the only mode of transmitting sentiments and orders to colleagues. In launching Ipod, Steve Jobs allowed for no input from his close advisors who told him of the potential dangers in the industry, but in sticking firmly to an agenda with no deviation, his product became an overwhelming success. Though, as a great leader, Jobs is not entirely composed of ‘Winter’, but also contains part ‘Irwin’. Leading through tactics that instill fear in people works to a point, but ultimately if compassion and camaraderie are not intertwined effectively, subjects lose respect and motivation to produce for their leader.
    When referring to Irwin, Winters himself describes his approach to fellow inmates as “offering them self respect in return for obedience”. While he can see that this course of action is functional and produces rapid success, Winters stands firm in his character and continues to allow for no deviation from his orders. Conversely, Irwin’s method produces success to a point as well, and acting solely on his own premonitions with little to no glance at the other leadership tactics ultimately lead to his death, showing how while each leadership style has its place in creating success in particular pockets and areas, without efectively molding each piece into a greater and more refined whole, streamlined leadership methods will be exposed as one-sided and unsuccessful.

  49. Chris Bellinzoni

    The leadership shown by General Irwin, and the way in which the prisoners began to follow and trust him made me think more of job identification than the dichotomy of his leadership and that of Colonel Winters. Irwin and Winters both were obviously employing two very different styles of leadership with respect to the prisoners. Irwin chose to see the best in the men while Winters saw the worst in them, which may also indicate a great deal about his own confidence and short comings. Winters sought to control the prisoners as a function of his own fear; Irwin on the other hand saw the potential in each man. But still I thought Irwin’s strongest leadership tact wasn’t his insight into each man’s capabilities, rather it was giving them an identity.

    By giving the men a sense of identity within a purposeful group again he created loyalty. By giving each man a clear role with an organized effort, they began to feel comfortable and confident in their roles. Once the men felt tied to their roles within the organization they could also take pride in the goals and successes of the organization as a whole. This kind of leadership ability to recognize a group’s intrinsic motivations can be immensely useful in almost any management situation, in business or otherwise.

  50. The very first thing which I would like to say about the movie is that it shows how can the right leadership qualities help you earn respect and loyalty among people who are shown to be violent , ruthless and dangerous prisoners. The movie revolves around the characters of General Irwin and Colonel Winter. Colonel Winter is shown to be a leader who believes in leadership through power whereas General Irwin believes in leadership trough motivation, inspiration and loyalty. As soon as General Irwin realizes that the prison is not being operated by the Colonel in a justified manner and he is killing and torturing prisoners to set an example for rest of the prisoners expecting them to obey his orders, General Irwin decides to fight back in his own way.

    General Irwin’s leadership qualities are very well shown by the way he plans his moves, does the correct resource allocation and has a plan to fight almost everything the Colonel could have come up with. His way of leading people highlights the fact that people would like to have a leader who has a clear goal and vision rather than someone who would just have the power of arms to boss around. This is evident by the way he motivated a prisoner to support him instead of taking an easy way and setting himself free by making him realize what a true“ Soldier “ is. However, I would also say that Irwin did a great job but he used the unethical ways of stealing and violence to accomplish it.

    All in all a very good movie that exhibits ,compares and contradicts two different styles of leadership.

  51. It is an interesting movie. It is not about how to escape from the prison; it is about how to be a leader. It points out how important leadership is and tells us why it is important.

    In the movie, there are two people fighting for the power to control the prison. In the castle, the General, Irwin, was born to be a leader. He is experienced and well educated. He can relate to the people he is leading; so with his knowledge and cleverness of using the power of his words, he can easily convey his ideas and emotion. Well, probably because they are all soldiers in the movie and that makes it easier for him to lead the crowd.

    On the other hand, in the same castle, the warden, Winter, was born to be a person who always want to be a leader but may not be able to be a leader.He is aggressive but he do not know how to be a leader. I will not judge who is right and who is wrong. Winter’s intention to well control the prison is perfectly good because there is no right or wrong to have a goal. What metters is the way to approach the goal.
    In the movie, both Irwin and Winter are fighting to try to take over the prison but Irwin has some qualities that Winter does not have and more important is Irwin use the right method. That is why, in the end, Irwin wins the war like he always did and Winter loses his first war.

    In the real world, we probably will meet both kinds of leaders or we probably will be one of them; that is why leadership is a required course for MBA students; if we want to be a manager in the future, we have to spend some time on learning how to be one.

    Finally, I would like to say that I never ever want to be in prison.

  52. Michael Buxbaum

    The Last Castle does an excellent job in portraying two opposing styles of leadership. Clearly, General Irwin gains the respect and allegiance of the other inmates by instilling confidence in them. His assertive voice and positive attitude help to encourage the inmates to believe in him and themselves, even in undertaking a task that at first may have seemed impossible. Conversely, Colonel Winter tries to intimidate and infuse fear into the inmates, which ultimately leads to their disobedience. In general, the movie depicts how some people are born to lead and be a role model, but others try to achieve the same goal through various tactics, and in this case, failing from a lack of instinct or intuition.

    One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when General Irwin states “any man with a collection like this is a man who’s never set foot on a battlefield.” He is essentially telling the warden, Colonel Winter, that he is not a real man and does not deserve the power he has been given. Winter quickly adjusts his mood to retain his authority, but it is evident that Irwin has disturbed Winter.

    Lastly, another important aspect of this film is the American Flag. The flag symbolizes the conflict between General Irwin and Colonel Winter, essentially creating a capture the flag type diversion.

  53. This movie very effectively demonstrates two different types of leadership by General Irwin and Col. Winter. General Irwin, who was imprisoned by Col. Winter, by his inspiration and motivation skills, gained the trust of the other prisoners. On the other hand Col. Winter tries to lead people using his power, force and cruelty. In my opinion, a person can be a good leader if he gains trust of his followers or inmates by his motivation skills and inspiration rather than a person who force people to follow him because a person can force people for a time being but not forever.

    And as we saw in the movie, Col. Winter’s poor leadership skills made him lose the trust and support of the prisoners, workers, prison and himself.

    Even Irwin died in the end but he demontrated a very good example of being a good leader.

  54. After viewing the last castle one can better understand the common saying that some just have the innate ability to lead. Although many blog posts have centered around movie synopsis. I believe to derive a clearer understanding of the business value this film delivers would be useful. The film, one which is a favorite among my friends, opens new interpretations each time it is viewed as one can observe the subtle nuances that truly develop the psyche of the characters. In my latest viewing I watched closely to understand the dynamic between Irwin and Winter. Each was or is a leader in their setting and each measures successes differently. However, Irwin who truly seems disinterested in creating a stir in the prison is lured to his old leader self as a result of the egotistical Winter.
    There is no denying the fact that their leadership styles differed entirely from one another with Winter demanding respect and forcing authority and Irwin cautiously accepting responsibility but expecting full loyalty, these different leadership styles emerge frequently in business today, with some bosses adopting each of the main characters leadership styles. The leader that demands respect and forces authority might succeed in checking off benchmarks on their lists however they are ultimately setting themselves or company’s up for failure. A leader that can adopt the Irwin approach and be accepted by all those who he leads will in the end be the most successful. To conclude leadership styles, although they are learned like any other disciplines are truly a candid reflection of one’s true intentions.

  55. Chiao-Yin Chang

    The last castle coveys the honor to oneself and among the other even if you are a prisoner. The story is about the battle of will between Winter and Irwin. Col Winter, the prison commander who was failed to control prisoners due to his extremely unreasonable management. General Irwin, an inmate who has strong personality and character of leadership lead him to be the chief of these inmates. Irwin be seen as a truly leader whereas Winter to be seen as a horrible commander.
    In the real world, we do see a lot of leaders who have the two models of leadership. One is harsh, disciplinary and tyrannical. The other is organized, inspired, and persuaded. In the business world, how to convince people and get people’s respect is the most important thing for leaders. If we manage people with fear and threaten way like Winter do might lose control in the end. Manage people should manage their mind. Regulation is very important, but improper manage method would ruin the team. Therefore, I believe that a truly leader should respect every man, inspire people and set the reasonable regulation to obey.

  56. Philip Pellegrino

    Colonel Winter and General Irwin are two drastically different leaders. In The Last Castle, Colonel Winter is the head of the prison. He leads the prisoners by instilling fear in them. The prisoners have witnessed multiple “murders”, and they know what happens if they do not follow orders. When General Irwin arrives, he begins to lead by example. He also leads by positive reinforcement. He reminds the prisoners that they are all still soldiers. He raised the prisoners confidence in themselves, and in turn, in him as well.
    The two different leadership styles in the movie can be easily compared to managerial styles in the business world. Colonel Winter would be a manager that threatens his employees with weekend hours, unpaid hours, or even termination of employment. General Irwin would lead by example and always give positive feedback and/or constructive criticism. In the movie, the prisoners chose to follow the General because they respected him. In the business world, people would rather work for someone like the General. The movie did an excellent job of comparing and contrasting the two styles, and ultimately choosing the better.

  57. Larysa Karasev

    The Last Castle is one more movie in a series of patriotic and inspirational films that used to be very popular in USA. As always, there is a battle between two leaders and one of them is clearly a bad person and the other is virtually spotless despite of one big mistake – death of eight men in this case. But this mistake makes General Irwin even better as he understands he is guilty. There is always someone else who is kind of bad but is inspired by good leader and becomes a hero – Capt. Yates wonderfully plays this role in the movie. The idea of taking a control over a much better armed enemy with virtually empty hands in not new, we know that it is possible with a really good strategy. That’s what a really like in this movie – the strategic process that includes identifying a problem, setting strategic goals, time management, game players. I think that General Irwin did a great job though some of the planned actions are very questionable – for example Yates’ capturing the helicopter did not persuade me. I did not like the end. Maybe for General his death was a release as he was a real commander and eventually was placed in a position where there was no war and no soldiers. This movie has a budget of $72 million and grossed $18 million – total disaster as I understand. Is it because patriotic theme is not popular here anymore?

  58. The Last Castel displays two different types of leadership styles: transactional and transformational. The army general, Irwin, is a beloved officer because he is a transformational leader and a motivator of men who utilizes reward and instills confidence in his fellow inmates. His positive attitude encourages the inmates to have faith in him and themselves. However, Winter, the manger of prison, is a manipulator of men, who is very demanding and wants to set the men against one another. After watching the movie, I have a strong feeling that working in the business field is like fighting on the battlefield, so in order to be a good leader one has to be confident, respectful, and considerate.

  59. Shih-Ching Wang

    There are two different types of leadership in this movie. General Irwin is a type of charisma. He has an indescribable ability to get others trust, respect, and persuasiveness. On the other hand, Colonel Winter is not a talented leader. He is lack of personal charm and only attempt to protect his leader position by the unreasonable rules that he made. Furthermore, General Irwin wins respect from others because of setting a good example with his own conduct and also respecting them. But Colonel Winter chooses the total different way, menace and punishment, because he does not believe humanity and himself.
    In my opinion, I don’t think what General Irwin did is absolutely right and what Colonel Winter did is totally wrong. Irwin is an excellent leader, so he probably have the ability to avoid the direct and severe conflict between two teams. And Winter’s managerial methods are what we often meet in the real world. However, both of them choose to resort to war to obtain their goals. If these two leaders are not soldiers, but statesmen or businessmen, the result may be changed. It is the best and highest to conquer enemy without having resort to war. And this is also the smartest and most efficient way to achieve our goals in the real business world.

  60. Alexander Yeuchyk

    The movie Last Castle gives two very obvious examples of leadership. The main characters, General Irwin and the Coronial Winter are opposed as implementation of two different two different types of leaders. The former is presented as a crystal honest man who chose imprisonment over shame for death of 8 men under his command. On the other hand, Winter is able to get away with deaths of three of his inmates. Honesty of the General serves as a corner stone to instantly win and maintain respect among other inmates. This is the first example of the leadership that the movie brings to us.

    Second major idea of the leadership is respect to others. There is no such a thing as a bad or good person. We may disagree with certain types of behavior in specific situations but these facts cannot serve as a dominant factor in determining whether someone is good or bad. By assigning people a major role in key situations with outcome of overall importance, a leader will demonstrate his trust which will bring out the strongest traits of character. This tactic can have tremendous results on influencing people’s behavior. Such an approach is especially important with people who may have lost respect to themselves and need an opportunity to show in action and prove themselves that they are able to good things. General Irwin applies that approach with Yost, telling that he believes in him and making a parallel between Yost and his father who was a real hero. Later, he charges Yost with the most important mission, to provide inmates with the flag of The Castle. At the end, we can see that the pride to himself, to his ability to face a tremendous risk and be a winner in the best interest to the group leads Yost to a real exploit – he risks his life flying a helicopter to neutralize a guard tower, and ensure his group the total control of the territory.
    On the other hand, the other leader, Winter, was trying to stimulate and use Yost’s negative qualities, constantly reminding him that he was a convicted criminal, reinforcing the pattern of negative behavior. That approach finally proved to be weaker.

    However, the pivotal scene of the movie is the wall building. At the end, the general could build a team of the people who just a while ago where a tribe “lone wolves”. At the and of the senseless punishment, when the general had to move twice a pile of heavy stones, all inmates merge in one homogenous group linked at the beginning by excitement, and later by a deep respect to the general. That example showed to everyone in the prison that they could overcome the intimidation of administration of the correctional facility. General’s victory created a common feeling that became a common ground for brining these people together. As an example of common point and growing mutual respect people started saluting each other, even though they knew that they could be punished far such an action. These links helped blending these separate people into a group so strong that deprived of any rights they could stand up against a brutal force trying to kill the product of their common effort embodied in the wall that they had constructed.

    Finally, throughout the whole movie the general applies leadership to the best interest of the group he belongs to and leads. When a Military representative tries to send him a message to stay away and wait until he will be released, the general refuses to do so because he cannot abandon “his” men in situation if unjust abuse. People are ready to follow their leader and trust him because of his genuine determination to achieve the best result for everyone, a respectful cause.

    That movie should be recommended to anyone who studies Leadership and Ethics courses, as well as for any general audience. Examples of leadership are clear, easy to understand, analyze and apply in real world.

  61. At this point, The Last Castle has been thoroughly analyzed by numerous individuals, and numerous viewpoints of the leadership qualities (or lack thereof) of General Irwin and Colonel Winter have been developed in detail, but one facet of leadership that I found interesting was the qualities portrayed through a variety of the secondary characters throughout the movie. Although I do not think it is justifiable to say that characters such as Corporal Aguilar and Captain Yates were leaders to the same extent as General Irwin was, I believe that it is important to touch on the fact that throughout the film, many of these characters portrayed leadership qualities. And, in my opinion, one important quality in a leader is knowing when to step forward as a leader, and knowing when to allow someone else to take charge.

    For example, Colonel Aguilar’s display when confronted by the bulldozer was to stand his ground for something that his team had built, rather then to avoid the confrontation before him. He stood up for something that the rest of the men valued although he likely know his actions would lead to severe repercussions. Another example of this is Captain Yates’ action when confronting an armed marksman with the helicopter. Instead of trying to escape, he took action in an attempt to stop the enemy, nearly killing himself instead of allowing more men to be hurt or killed.

    Perhaps the best example of this is Captain Peretz, Winter’s “assistant.” At the end of the film, Peretz stops the other men from shooting General Irwin, disobeying a direct order issued by Colonel Winter, and acting as a new leader rather then a follower. As an aside, I find it ironic that Peretz’s action is the exact crime that General Irwin has been sentenced to serve ten years for, disobeying a direct order.

    These three instances are, in my opinion, a few occurrences of an overarching main facet of leadership, allowing someone to take charge when they are better suited to be a leader. More importantly, I feel that this exemplifies one of the main points from the film, that being a leader is not always being right, but knowing when someone else may in fact be right, or may be better suited for a task.

  62. Former General Irwin doesn’t rely solely on his reputation to become a leader in prison. By never backing down while being punished by moving rocks, Irwin earned the respect of his fellow inmates. He was described as building a structure of loyalty and obedience. He showed confidence in others to get a job done, like Yates. Also, Irwin made sure he had a thorough understanding of the enemy before he took action. His ability to set an example, to create camaraderie, and to prepare a plan set him apart as a leader.

    Tony Soprano rules by force. This built animosity from those he controls. Even though he has to be stern as a prison leader, his actions must not unnecessarily provoke the prisoners, because they will seek out retribution. He ruined morale by destroying their wall and shooting another inmate. Soprano also had the chance to get rid of Irwin, peacefully, but chose to prolong the confrontation, and ultimately paid the price.

  63. George DeVardo

    The Last Castle is a movie about how a good leader can change the attitudes of even the most stubborn and angst filled person.

    The men in the military prison seemed to be unruly animals, only stifled by brute force brought upon them by the Colonel. The men had little purpose once they were in the prison opposed to when they were in the service and if anything had a purpose or sense of belonging.

    The men fell in line behind Erwin, because he treated them with respect and not as prisoners but as people. He gave them their sense of pride back and this is the reason they rallied behind him and rioted in the prison.

  64. what the heck?! are you guys trying to write a dissertation on this stupid movie? does it require examination for your thesis? weird!

  65. I ran into this blog and was wondered by the strong sense that people set on leadership regarding this movie.

    The Last Castle, to my understanding, is not a story about leadership, in the first place. It’s a story about war. The story is set in the least likely place on Earth to see a war, currently. The American South, namely. A region pacified more than a century ago, and hopefully for good. A military prison, keeping inmates pouring from all the branches of the U.S. Armed Service, inmates tightly kept in peace, in the middle of this American South, is the least likely environment to see a war. Yet, the whole movie speaks about war.

    The movie speaks about war. The movie speaks about the people who wage wars. All across the prison, Gral. Irwin runs into characters that were once active military personnel, now downleveled to plain no-rank inmates. However, albeit their current situation, stripped of ranks and ribbons, all these men keep a piece in the inside, of who they were, what they did, where they´ve been, what their choices were in what seems a past life. Wars are violent events where men confront, subjugate, and kill. That demands men willing to engage in physical contact and willing to endure physical and psychological abuse. Throughout the movie, there is the persistent comparison between being a soldier and being a warrior. Col. Winters embodies much of what means being a soldier. He is committed, disciplined, organized and effective. He has achieved his position following a solid career in the military. However, he stygmatizes himself because, taking pride in being such professional soldier, he has never seen combat, thereby feeling himself incomplete. This is the source of his distorted view of the prison and his duties, looking at himself and his men as a faction confronting another faction, meaning the inmates, in the middle of a silent war. Sadly, to the inmates this is, his view has rendered excellent results in Col. Winters’ work and to the opinion of his superiors. Gen. Irwin, OTOH, is not only a professional soldier as well, but also a warrior. He has indeed fought wars, first following others, and later being followed by others. His view of conflict is not ruled by an indoors perspective, but by the true experience of warfare. Now, this is where I do agree that leadership rises as a component in the story. Gen. Irwin, embodies a soldier, a warrior, and also much of what it means to be a leader. He is

    If leadership is meant to be understood as a prime theme in The Last Castle, well I do perceive, as others did, that this story shows a confrontation between two different forms of leadership. Col. Winters follows the doctrine of autocratic leadership, whlie Gen. Irwin follows a doctrine of proactive and transformational leadership. However, instead of focusing on a confrontation between two forms of leadership, which I can find it quite interesting, but I by far am not able to engage it the way others have already done in this very blog, I am rather prone to point out that this story shows the comparison between plain management and true leadership. Col. Winters is not a leader. He’s a manager, emerged from the bureaucratic pyramid that prevails within the military. He expects his men to work and obey from within that very chain of command, by the sole reason that each and one of them occupies a position into it. As much as I do know that this is all by itself a reason to obey, this is not a form of leadership, in that the soldiers under Winters are not sharing a goal, but only sharing effort. Winters doesn´t care whether their men wish to follow goals, and that’s something depicted one time after the other in the person of his second-in-command, a young soldier who wishes to share more than effort. The prison does accomplish a necessity in the whole of the military environment, but it doesn’t accomplish goals other than Winters’. While Gen. Irwin is a true leader. He is most likely aware of the bureaucratic mechanics of the military (or tell me that a general doesn’t), but he engages his men in the terms of showing them to do the right things, the right way, for the right reasons. Irwin has the need of understanding his men in order to empower them in the right position, in the right direction. He is able not just to make an inmate question his own position, but also to question his very self regarding his position. And this is exactly where the movie plays with the notion in that Winters is the bad guy and Irwin is the good guy. Winters uses his command in order to make his men do what he expects from them. Irwin uses his command in order to make his men do what they expect from themselves.

    The movie speaks about war. It speaks about how wars are waged. The inmates have to collect intelligence in order to learn about their opponents’ strenghth, response, range, and stamina. They learn how outresourced are they in comparison. But the weapon doesn´t make the warrior. It’s the other way around. In the face of inferiority, the inmates pull out their inventive in order to provide themselves of weapons. Conflicts, of any size, rapidly term themselves. The inmates are no exception to this rule, and they improvise weapons useful to the kind of “war” they are about to wage (a prison riot). They use mess trays to improvise shields, and assorted objects to build a trebuchet. Throughout the movie, tactics and resources from the different ages of mankind, used for warfare, can be seen in action.

    The movie speaks about war. It speaks of why wars are waged. All of the characters, for the sole exception of the generals, have been far away from the political decisions that have an outcome in war. However, they are currently in the position of choosing to wage a war of their own. Wars are political and economical phenomena. Wars are social and human affairs. They have been waged for a variety of reasons, ranging from the lust for territory to revenge. The inmates, mistreated by the warden’s policies and practices, enforced by his men, have suffered an effect on their dignity. And an offense to dignity, is a casus bellum. It’s a reason to go to war.

  66. Pingback: The Last Castle (2001) | Super Formula PC

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