The Last Castle

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The Last Castle is a 2001 drama film about a struggle between inmates and the warden of the prison, based on the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. A highly decorated U.S. Army Lieutenant General, court martialed and sentenced for insubordination, challenges the commandant over his treatment of the prisoners.

Directed by Rod Lurie. Written by David Scarpa, Graham Yost, and Sam Mercer.
A castle can only have one king. tag lines

Eugene Irwin[edit]

  • Take a look at a castle. Any castle. Now break down the key elements that make it a castle. They haven't changed in a thousand years. 1: Location. A site on high ground that commands the territory as far as the eye can see. 2: Protection. Big walls, walls strong enough to withstand a frontal attack. 3: A garrison. Men who are trained and willing to kill. 4: A flag. You tell your men you are soldiers and that's your flag. You tell them nobody takes our flag. And you raise that flag so it flies high where everyone can see it. Now you've got yourself a castle. The only difference between this castle and all the rest is that they were built to keep people out. This castle is built to keep people in.

Colonel Winter[edit]

  • Oh, as a courtesy? They should be naming a base after the man. Not sending him here. My God, Eugene Irwin... Well, we have a verdict, we have a sentence, we have a prisoner. We do our job. Whether we like it or not. Puts us on our toes, though, doesn't it?
  • At the war college, his name was spoken with a reverence, as if the syllables themselves conveyed what it meant to be a soldier. Now here he is, commanding an army of one. The stuttering monkey.
  • I discussed the regulations for saluting with Aguilar, did I not? Remind him again. Effectively.
  • [miffed by BG Wheeler's recent inspection of the complex, decides to read a part of Eugene Irwin's case file before the prisoners] Eugene R. Irwin, Lieutenant General, United States Army, in direct contravention of an order to evacuate Burundi by his commander-in-chief"- That is the president, for those of you who do not know -"selected a platoon of men to extract Jackson Ngwe, a local warlord. Disregarding reliable intelligence, General Irwin's reconnaissance team entered the ville at 0300. Eight men were captured and executed." Disregarding reliable intelligence... eight men were executed. What I want you men to understand is what the consequences can be when you choose to follow a man who is motivated solely by his pride. A man who will do anything for one more victory notch on his belt, no matter what the cost, before he fades away.


[COL Winter and several guards are observing the inmates out in the exercise yard, noticing Irwin's rising status among the prisoners.]
CPL Zamorro: Privates are "Pal", Corporal's "Buddy", Sergeant's "Sport", officers are "Chief"- playing soldiers, sir.
COL Winter: Hearts and minds. He is offering them self-respect, in exchange for loyalty. The general is building himself an army.
CPL Zamorro: He can have the hearts and minds, sir. Long as we got 'em by the balls.
COL Winter: Well put, Corporal.
CPL Zamorro: Thank you, sir.
[COL Winter starts to leave the guard tower; CPT Peretz follows.]
COL Winter: Bring him to my office.
CPT Peretz: Who?
COL Winter: The Prince of Venezuela! Who do you think?
CPT Peretz: General Irwin?
COL Winter: Mister Irwin!

COL Winter: Mr. Irwin, these men are not here for unpaid parking fines, or misdemeanors-
Irwin: I'm under no illusion as to why the men are here, Colonel. I just thought that they might be reminded of some of the good things they've done, instead of only the worst.
COL Winter: Yes, that is something my predecessor used to say. And in his time here there were fights, escape attempts, guards assaulted- including one killed. Since I've assumed command there have been zero escape attempts, zero injury assaults, zero fatalities. Some may question my methods- but they do work. No soldier has ever died needlessly under my command, Mr. Irwin. You see, I too share the burden of command. You may not think I have ever set foot on a battlefield, but that is because you have never sat behind this desk. This desk! My men and I are vastly outnumbered. We spend every day behind enemy lines because, make no mistake about it Mr. Irwin, they are the enemy! [Pauses, gets up and faces Irwin.] This wall, that has been the focus of so much... tension... well, in about two minutes, there will be no more wall.

Irwin: [Winter is trying to compromise with Irwin] No. Not okay! It's too late, Colonel.
Winter: Too late for what?
Irwin: For your offer. The men don't want to salute. They don't want to use rank. They don't want better food and they don't want more TV. They just want your resignation. So do I.
Winter: My resignation?
Irwin: You're a disgrace, Colonel! A disgrace to the uniform! You should not be allowed to retain your command.
Winter: [sarcastic] Well, I guess I better go pack!
Irwin: I think you should.
Winter: Tell me, Mr. Irwin. What's to stop me from simply placing you in the Hole, for say six months?
Irwin: Nothing. If that's the way you want to win.

BG Wheeler: So you thought he was gonna try to take me hostage?
COL Winter: Yes, sir, it was a precautionary move.
BG Wheeler: [Sharply] What the hell kind of grab-ass unit are you running here, Colonel?
[Winter looks insulted but pauses to compose himself]
COL Winter: Sir, at 11:58 this morning I received a letter stating that a group of inmates were planning on taking you hostage at 12:10. I thought it prudent to act immediately to ensure your safety-
BG Wheeler: Let me tell you something. I've been hearing some pretty disturbing things about what goes on in here. And now I'm hearing it from a man who I trust. And whose opinion I respect.
COL Winter: May I speak freely, sir?
BG Wheeler: Yes, you may.
COL Winter: With all due respect, General, I don't know what you may have been 'hearing'... but until you've spent some time in the yard with those animals, you have no idea what happens in there.
BG Wheeler: Point taken, Colonel. Nevertheless, if I hear one more story about a man dying under your command you are through here. Now, do you understand me?
COL Winter: Yes, sir.
BG Wheeler: All right. As far as Gene Irwin is concerned: it is my judgement he is as sane as you or I. I wish he wasn't; he is. Frankly I'd like nothing more than an excuse to get him out of here. But I see the only way that's gonna happen, is if you request it.
COL Winter: That is true, sir.
BG Wheeler: So- you just tell me you can't handle him. And he's gone.
COL Winter: [Smirking] Oh, I think I can handle him, sir.
BG Wheeler: [Coldly] You watch yourself, Colonel.

[Prisoner Irwin addresses inmates at the mess hall]
Eugene Irwin: We can no longer wear the uniform of a soldier. We forfeited that right and that includes me. I disobeyed an executive order, I violated my duty as a commanding officer. And eight men paid a catastrophic price. It's a mistake not easy to live with. So here I am just like you, a convicted criminal. Only difference between you and me is, I know I'm guilty. [prisoners laugh] So we're packed away here as prisoners. And one thing is certain, our captors have the power. They can humiliate us, they can beat us, they can lock us away in a dark hole for days on end, but there's one thing they cannot do. They cannot take away from us, who we are. And we are soldiers! And it is the one thing, the ONE thing that gives us a chance in here. And that nobody can take away!
Prisoner: Yeah that's right. [inmates cheer in assent]
Irwin: [reads paper] The Uniform Code of Military Justice. Grounds for Removal of a Stockade or Disciplinary Barracks Commander: One. Dereliction of duty.
Inmates: That's right. Yeah.
Irwin: Two. Criminal malfeasance. [Inmates murmuring agreement] Three. Noncompliance with procedural rules.
Inmate: Yeah.
Irwin: Four. Making false official statements. Five. Conduct unbecoming to an officer and gentleman.
Inmates: Yeah!
Irwin: Six. Cruelty and maltreatment of persons under his command. [Inmates shouting agreement, rattle tables] Seven. Command failure resulting in loss of control of facility. [folds back paper] Gentlemen, I propose that we seize control of this facility. [inmates cheer loudly]

COL Winter: So what do you have for me?
Yates: Not much.
COL Winter: Not much. Then why are you here?
Yates: I thought there was something you might wanna know. When they do take over the prison they're gonna fly the flag upside down.
COL Winter: Upside down?
Yates: It's the international sign of distress, sir.
COL Winter: [Visibly annoyed] Yes, I know what it means. And where are they going to get a flag?
Yates: They already have it. Yours.
COL Winter: Mine. [Winter walks over to the triangular box where the prison's flag is stored; he finds it empty] Peretz, who was in here yesterday-
Yates: I took it, you murdering fuck!
COL Winter: [pauses and looks at Yates, smiling coldly]I thought you were smarter than that.
Yates: Yeah, I know you did.
[In the next shot Yates is being thrown down a flight of stairs by two guards; Zamorro is standing above him.]
CPL Zamorro: You gonna tell us where that flag is? Come on, get up, Yates. Where's the flag?
Yates: [Gets up and spits on the ground] You know, you're a real fuckin' coward, Zamorro.
CPL Zamorro: And you're a big hero. Let's go! [Zamorro grabs Yates and throws him down the next flight of stairs]

Tag lines[edit]

  • A castle can only have one king.
  • No castle can have two kings.


  • Robert Redford - Lt. Gen. Eugene R. Irwin, USA
  • James Gandolfini - Col. Winter
  • Delroy Lindo - Brig-Gen Wheeler
  • Mark Ruffalo - Yates
  • Steve Burton - Peretz

External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about:

The Last Castle quotes at the Internet Movie Database