The Last Castle
The Last Castle is a film about independence, tyranny, and humanity. When a former three star general is court marshaled and imprisoned, he discovers a prison run by a murderous and tyrannical warden. At first he is skeptical, he simply wants to do his time, get out of prison and meet his grandson. But as the warden’s list of offenses grows, the highly respected general is compelled to take action.
The question the film raises is a moral one. Is it right for prisoners to take up arms and over throw a cruel tyrant? As you watch the film, you are drawn in to the plight of the prisoners. The directors use several misleading techniques to ensure that the viewers of the film side with the prisoners. First of all, very few of the prisoner’s convictions are mentioned. We know that the prison is a maximum security one, and therefore that all of the prisoners are in for serious convictions. However, we never hear what exactly these convictions are. This makes it much easier to root for the prisoners as the film progresses. In contrast, the injustices committed by the warden and guards are clearly displayed. The warden orders several cruel and unfair punishments, and the guards routinely beat the prisoners far beyond warrant. This makes it easy to root against the guards. Keeping this in mind, it is easy to watch the film and root for the prisoners. But is that right?
I think so. The prisoners in this film, while convicted felons, are still human beings. The warden and guards seem to have forgotten this fact. The warden himself uses the term “animals” when referring to the prisoners at one point. As portrayed in the film the prisoners are beaten severely for imagined infractions and three men have been killed by misplaced rubber bullet shots from the warden’s men. The warden makes it his aim to keep the prisoners constantly low and humiliated. All of this behavior, I believe is wrong.
While it should be noted that I don’t think prisons should be like Marriott hotels, I do believe that the warden had forgotten the point of prison. The purpose of prison should be to rehabilitate criminals. Prisons should be a place of learning, a place where people who have made mistakes in the past can go to realize their flaws and wrongs, and learn ways to grow into productive honest citizens. The warden at this prison was not accomplishing this task, worse he was abusing his position and violating the innate rights that the prisoners held as human beings.
So was the general correct when he led an uprising to take control of the prison? As a Christian I believe that people are to submit to their authorities. However I also believe that people are to serve and love their neighbors. General Irwin and the other prisoners sacrifice their freedom so that future prisoners will not be treated like trash. I believe that is a good thing.
Does it justify a prison rebellion? Well how about you decide for yourself. Go and watch the movie, come back and tell me what you think.