Redford roars


Doc Films's crimson curtains were drawn Tuesday afternoon for Robert Redford's latest film, Lions for Lambs. Hundreds of students and community members lined up outside Ida Noyes an hour before the showing, hoping to catch a glimpse of Redford's shiny golden mane during the 30-minute question-and-answer session afterward. By showtime Max Palevsky Theater's 483 seats were filled and Lions's stars Redford, Meryl Streep, and Tom Cruise filled the screen.

The film follows three narratives surrounding a military mission in Afghanistan. Senator Irving (Cruise) tries to sell his "new" plan that will "win the war and the hearts and minds" in Afghanistan to a skeptical journalist (Streep). On the West Coast political-science professor Malley (Redford) engages in an early-morning office-hours session with a disaffected student, hoping to prove that politics still matters. In Afghanistan two of Professor Malley's former students (Michael Peña and Derek Luke) fight for their lives as soldiers in Irving's troubled operation.

Following the show, political journalist Rick Perlstein, AB’92, moderated questions for a panel of Redford and actors Peña and Andrew Garfield. Like the film, Redford's comments were politically charged. He noted that Lions is "not about current issues" per se, but "something deeper." Comparing the present climate to "the McCarthy trials, Watergate, and Iran-Contra," he said, the movie asks "questions through [verbal] duels" on the role of "combat, media, and politics."

Redford seems to have an affinity for the University of Chicago, having previously directed A River Runs Through It, based on U of C Professor Norman Maclean's autobiographical book, and previewed a rough cut of his film, Quiz Show, at Doc in 1994. Redford stressed the role that teachers must play in developing a sense of responsibility in their students, also a major theme in Lions. "Professor Malley is in a quiet rage. He's lost his ability to get students motivated," Redford said. "[Teaching] should be all about engagement and getting students involved. It must be something personal."

Ethan Frenchman, '08

Photos: Students and community members wait outside Ida Noyes; Michael Peña, Robert Redford, and Andrew Garfield (left, center, and right, respectively) answer questions as Rick Perlstein moderates.

October 12, 2007