It is the season for movies with substance. We made it passed an excruciating summer, putting up with garbage like Transformers. Now get ready for the real directors of big budget Hollywood that use money on talent, not effects. What to see? Lions for Lambs, Robert Redford’s first film since The Legend of Bagger Vance. A good flick I thought, but I’m bias, I golf. It was definitely no Quiz Show. Not since then, has Redford given us a must see film.
I knew nothing about it, other than, it’s Redford’s film starring Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep. A political drama I think. Good enough for me. Cruise plays a Senator, who has a plan to win the war on terror. Streep, is a reporter, who gets an exclusive interview with the Senator, and will be the first to tell the nation about this new plan. Meanwhile, Redford, who plays a college professor, is trying to convince his most promising student, why he should care about his Political Science class. He uses the lives of two former students, who chose to go to Afghanistan, as examples of how diverse and complicated the system all is, of which the young pupil thinks he has all figured out. These two soldiers are ironically at the head of Cruises military proposal.
The three stories are wonderfully woven together in an attempt to show our current situation abroad, and how it pertains to people on all levels, from the Senators who initiate the war, to the soldiers who fight it, to each citizen, particularly those with social awareness. Everyone is responsible for what happens, even if their actions are futile and do not inspire change.
I left the theatre thinking, short. And beautifully shot. They made Washington look like a giant graveyard. Everyone was good. Even Cruise. “Did you like it?” I asked my girl.
“It was okay.” She thought it was too preachy. “Blah, blah, blah!”
I understood. It was very preachy. In fact, I believe that, that was the whole point. The ideas expressed in the film are far from new ideas. It has all been done before. But not like this. The film emphasizes the media’s responsibility to the people, and the people’s responsibility to think. Education is criticized, as the film points out that we are a nation taught by television. People in this country accept what is given to them, leaving little room for change. Instead of television as an educational tool, it is a manipulator of the masses.
“Yeah. I heard it before,” she said.
“Is he lying?”
Well maybe it’s good to hear some truth, no matter how preachy. While one may think he’s preaching to the choir, another may think I don’t even sing. Plenty have never heard these perspectives, and never would if not for films like Lions for Lambs. In the future, when this terrible past is behind us, or not, we can look back and see whose side we were on. Who sat back and watched the world die, and who stood up and tried to save it. And even if all of our efforts amount to the same inevitable conclusion, at least one of us can say, “at least I did something.” Thank you for your efforts Mr. Redford.