The Last Castle

The movie “The Last Castle” provides examples of good leadership and bad leadership. Colonel Winter, the warden of a military is the example of bad leadership, while General Irwin, a prisoner at Winter’s prison is an example of good leadership. The film illustrates that a leader does not have to have a technical leadership position to gain followers, and how two leaders who have differing viewpoints on leadership cannot exist in the same space without conflict. Henri Nouwen, in his book on leadership “In the Name of Jesus,” says “power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love…easier to control people than love people. In “The Last Castle,” we see the contrast of Irwin’s and Winter’s leadership styles in regards to the prisoners. Winter constantly reads the inmates files about the crimes they committed in order to remind himself that they are capable of violence and so he will not ever feel compassion for them. He is hard-nosed and takes no interest into their personal feelings, and he refuses to ever recognize how they could change over time. Irwin, on the other hand, chooses to ignore the inmates’ pasts and focuses on who they are in the present.

He recognizes that no matter what they have done, they have a good side as well. In addition, Irwin treats the inmates as men, instead of treating them like stupid children. In the film, Irwin takes interest in a prisoner named Aguilar. Aguilar is not well liked because he is Hipic. In addition, he has a speech impediment so others think he is dumb. He has no confidence but when Irwin starts treating him like a soldier, and not like a worthless man, he gains his confidence. Irwin recognizes that Aguilar is smart and knows masonry so he puts Aguilar in charge of building the wall.

Since Irwin treated Aguilar like a man and a soldier, Aguilar gained confidence and was able to himself become the leader of the wall-building project. In building the wall, the prisoners were building themselves a figurative castle to protect themselves from the unfair practices of Winter. Irwin inspires the men to build the wall to be something that is their own. Irwin suggests that they all work together in order to build a better, stronger wall. Building the wall was something the prisoners did on their own, without the directive of the warden.

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