Lions for Lambs
dir. Robert Redford
100 min.

Lions for Lambs, Robert Redford’s “critical and complex” look at the War on Terror from various angles is a recap of the various acceptable sides on the debate about the war.

While the film explores themes of courage, patriotism, critical dissent, media, truth, responsibility, it feels like a rehash of the debate on the War on Terror.  Every character represents an idea in this debate.  There is the media who admits they sold the Iraq war and now regrets it, is skeptical of any new strategies.  There is the career politcian directing from afar, with no real stake in the operations they concoct.  There are the idealistic patriots, all the more heroic because they go against their class interests in volunteering for the war.  There is the liberal professor trying to inspire his students.  There is the apathetic student with potential if he only started caring again.  Then their paths intersect (ala the new cliche – Crash, Babel).

Although attempting to be a critique of US foreign policy, it actually only offers up the same ideas we get from bourgeois media:  failure of individual leaders, failure of tactics, failure of voters apathy.

It offers up individualistic solutions that could have prevented the current war, or perhaps the next one.  If only the media didn’t follow along with the President’s march.  If only we focused on one war at a time.  If only the voters cared enough about politics.  If only our politicians were like the lions they sent out to war, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

Of course, this all removes the economic and class basis for the wars.  The idea of the economic motive is lost, or that this was all planned a decade earlier through the “New American Century” agenda, representing the unrepentant and openly public imperialists.  That is if only we were more “politically consciousness” we could have prevented this. 

It is not a coincidence that this movie comes out during the time of Obama, the ultimate face for liberal bourgeois reform.