The Last Castle is as good an analogy of Christ as I have seen in a movie in some time. General Irwin is a wonderful Messiah figure. He seeks to set the captives free. Those that choose to follow him are eventually set free, not in a physical way but instead in more of a spiritual way.

Review by Mike Furches


This page was created on October 23, 2001
This page was last updated on May 17, 2005

Click to enlargeDirected by Rod Lurie
Story by David Scarpa
Screenplay by David Scarpa and Graham Yost

Robert Redford .... General Eugene Irwin
James Gandolfini .... Colonel Winter
Mark Ruffalo .... Clifford Yates
Steve Burton .... Lt. Peretz
George Scott .... Thumper
Addison Pate .... Prisoner
Nick Kokich .... Private Neibolt
David Alford .... Corp Zamorro
Samuel Ball
Maurice Bullard .... Sgt McLaren
Paul Calderon .... Dellwo

Directed by Rod Lurie
Produced by Robert Lawrence (producer), Don Zepfel (executive producer)
Original music by Jerry Goldsmith Mark McKenzie (orchestrations)
Cinematography by Shelly Johnson
Film Editing by Michael Jablow and Kevin Stitt

MPAA: Rated R for language and violence.
Runtime: USA:131

(33 MB)
(14.7 MB)

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The Last Castle:
Original Motion Picture Score
- Jerry Goldsmith

1. The Castle 2. Irwin Arrives 3. The Rock Pile 4. Get Behind The Mule - John Hammond 5. Let's Go Ladies 6. Full Alert 7. Military Justice 8. The Count Down 9. Hold Them 10. Taking Command 11. The Flag 12. September 11, 2001 13. Chiseled In Stone - Dean Hall

A Castle can only have one king

A three-star general (Redford) wrongly court-martialed and sentenced to a military maximum-security prison rallies the 1,200 inmates to revolt against the corrupt warden (Gandolfini) and his guards... (Ruffalo plays a pilot asked by the warden to snitch; Penn plays Redford's daughter).

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Mike is the Senior Pastor at United at the Cross Community Church in Wichita Kansas. United at the Cross is a church made up of individuals not often accepted in other churches. The church consists of former gang members, drug addicts, prostitutes and others. Mike also speaks nationally on various topics and is a freelance writer. To learn more about Mike and his ministry link onto In the arts Mike has worked with top music artists such as Steppenwolf, Marshall Tucker Band, Kansas and has an active interest in film. Mike is pictured with his music band "Route 66." His reviews include The Mummy Returns. Amistad, The Apostle, Armageddon, The Cell, Hurricane, Dr Dolittle 2, ELO -Zoom, Frequency, The Patriot, Pearl Harbor, Rush Hour 2, Shrek, Extreme Days, The Last Castle, Serendipity, Ali, Reversal, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Jimmy Neutron, Mothman, Black Hawk Down

Click to enlargeDespite our best efforts the reality is that we have all made mistakes. Even the best of men are not perfect. The Last Castle is a movie that constantly reminds the viewers of the consequences of their actions and their need for deliverance. It is also a film that questions when is enough, enough? Robert Redford plays the part of General Irwin who is wrongfully imprisoned for insubordination after pleading no contest in his court marshal case.Click to enlargeAt first, Warden Colonel Winter, played exceptionally well by James Gandolfini, is excited that a legitimate war hero is going to be in his prison. He believes that he and Irwin have much in common but it isn't long before he realizes that the attributes that made Irwin a great and respected general are not what Winter had envisioned. The maximum-security military prison has many problems and, following an old military tradition, it doesn't take long for Irwin to learn that the stench starts at the top.
Click to enlargeColonel Winter is a military man who refuses to see the good in any of the inmates. He also focuses on the wrong they have done as opposed to the potential they might have. While it is true that each inmate is born into sin and has committed sin, it is also true that each has been appointed a gift that is of value and needed for the cause of the many. After all, the Marines and Armed Services only take in good men. It is just that sometimes those men and their talents need more development than what they are given opportunity for.
Click to enlargeGeneral Irwin does not initially have the desire to rekindle his old military background. He is content to serve his sentence and get out to spend time with his grandson and daughter. While he is ready to abandon his training it isn't long before his own value comes to the forefront. The inmates know that Irwin has an ability that they don't and they desperately want and seek his leadership. While he has to earn it for many of the men it is after he is willing to show that he is there to serve them and help them that others jump on board. They quickly realize the value of servanthood and determination. Click to enlargeIrwin even refuses the offer of freedom from a friend who is Colonel Winter's superior officer. He instead chooses to stay at the prison and take on the enemy, Winter, for the sake of his fellow inmates. The inmates see this and know that Irwin is willing to lay his life down for them and they quickly realize that there is no greater love that anyone could have. Irwin has a way to show outsiders, inmates and other guards the deceptive nature of the enemy. While Irwin has an obvious understanding of Colonel Winter, Winter never truly understands where Irwin's real power comes from.
Click to enlargeIrwin sees the value of each individual and begins to provide the leadership that has as its main point of focus, the abilities and talents of the inmates. They are each uniquely gifted and Irwin even sees gifts in those with disabilities and character flaws. It isn't long before those individuals realize they have strengths and talents they can offer to the good of the community. They begin to see their own abilities and talents and those of their fellows after Irwin has opened their eyes. Click to enlargeGeneral Irwin becomes, in many ways, like a pastor developing the strengths of his congregation to overcome an enemy - an enemy that gives the appearance of an angel but is really covered with darkness. While Irwin thinks that he would rather give up on his own purpose and intent he knows that he has a mission of deliverance for the inmates he is there to serve. He knows that someone has to set them free from the darkness of Winter. It isn't long before the true colors of Colonel Winter come through. He represents death, destruction, pride, revenge and power. He has no grasp of servanthood and refuses to see or accept his own imperfections.
Click to enlargeGeneral Irwin plays a wonderful Messiah figure in The Last Castle. He seeks to set the captives free by serving and leading them. Those that choose to follow him are eventually set free, not in a physical way but instead in more of a spiritual way. Jesus said, "I come to seek and save the Lost." He was also willing to offer Himself up as a sacrifice not just for the sins of each person in the world but also so each person could find spiritual freedom from the captivity of their sins. Click to enlargeWhile Irwin can't give eternal life to the inmates the analogies are still many. There is a final fiery battle where deliverance is possible but sacrifice will be required. The Last Castle provides a wonderful opportunity to begin discussion with seekers as to the similarities between Irwin and Jesus. While Irwin falls far short, there are enough comparisons that the point of Jesus sacrifice could easily be brought home.
Click to enlargeThe Last Castle is as good an analogy of Christ as I have seen in a movie in some time. It is far from a perfect movie but it is still a very good one that should do well in the box office. The old Tennessee State Prison gives a good example of the Hell that many live in. It also shows a wonderful picture of spiritual deliverance and the sacrifice that is required for freedom.
While not perfect I'll still give it a good spiritual rating of 7.77
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Subject: Last_Castle
Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2001
From: TAOR

I appreciated the insights offered by your review. This story is reminiscent of other great prison tales, notably Malamud's "The Fixer" and Solzhenitsyn's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch," in which the unjust suffering of a good man points to the hope of redemption. I agree also with your comment about sin as imprisonment. One is reminded of Paul's statement to the Galations: "Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed."

The Last Castle © 2001 DreamWorks. All Rights Reserved.