How does the film "The Last Castle" show concepts of Human Resource Management?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Human Resource Management concerns the proper training and use of employees to the benefit of a company. Typically, HR Managers try to keep their employees working in the places most suited to their skills, while making sure that they and other employees don't suffer "burnout" from working too hard. They also cross-train employees to cover multiple positions so if one key employee is unavailable, the position can still be covered. HR Managers are responsible for both the well-being of the employees and the efficiency of the company.

In the 2001 film The Last Castle, Robert Redford plays a military officer, Lt. Irwin, who is placed in prison for disobeying a direct order. Inside, he clashes with the Warden, Col. Winter, who resents what he feels is an attempt by Irwin to undermine Winter's authority. The two men build up to a showdown between guards and prisoners, both trained to support their leaders.

In the film, Irwin uses his military background to rally the patriotic prisoners to his side. He uses some men to build a stone wall, an overt act of rebellion, while others gather information about the guards and their training by tricking them with a false kidnapping scheme. Winter, for his part, reaches out to a prisoner and uses him as a spy, offering a reduced sentence. While both men command respect for their actions -- Winter keeps legal order in the prison while Irwin protects his men who he feels are being mistreated -- general favor ultimately falls with Irwin, who refuses to stand down at the end. Winter's understanding of his men and their willingness to stand with him falls apart as he orders Irwin's death; however, his second-in-command, a well-trained man, takes Winter prisoner and restores order after Winter kills Irwin himself.

Both Irwin and Winter show understanding and empathy with their men, as well as the ability to put their best men in the right places for their plans to work. However, Winter is ultimately taken down by his own arrogance; he believes that his own decisions overtake rational behavior; however, Irwin understands that as the leader of the uprising, he is solely responsible for success or failure, and he refuses to allow his men to be punished for his own actions.