Arms and the Man


Black satire doesn’t get blacker or funnier than in Lord Of War which has a script where every line is screamingly funny while the visual stuns you by being true-to-life horrific.

If I had anything to do with awarding Oscars, I would give this one a statute for Best Original Screenplay. The tag lines from the movie show you the direction. “Where there is a will, there is a weapon” and, “The first and most important rule of gun-running is: never get shot with your own merchandise”.

BBC has highlighted Lord Of War by saying, “2005 has been different, presenting us with a batch of fictional Hollywood features, albeit many inspired by reality, that deal with some extremely political issues. To name a few, The Constant Gardener examines the questionable practices of pharmaceutical companies in Africa, Lord of War depicts the life of a seedy international arms dealer, and Jarhead portrays the dark world of American marines during the Persian Gulf war.”

The director of Jarhead, Sam Mendes, says change is afoot in the movie industry’s treatment of political issues. “What you’re seeing this year with The Constant Gardener, Good Night, and Good Luck, Syriana, Munich, Lord of War, Jarhead — these movies are engaged, if not in the absolute now, in the discussions that are fueling the current political debate.”

Lord Of War charts the rise and fall of Yuri Orlov, from his days in the early 1980s in Little Odessa, selling guns to mobsters in his local neighbourhood, to his ascension through the decade of excess and indulgence into the early 90s, where he forms a business partnership with an African warlord and his psychotic son. The film also charts his relationship with his younger brother, marri-age to a famous model, rele-ntless pursuit by a determi-ned federal agent and his inner demons that sway betw-een his drive for success and immorality of what he does.

Says the critic Trautmann, “The highlight of Niccol’s biting satire is undoubtedly Cage’s performance as the amoral but charming Yuri. Cage is adept at playing scoundrels with humour and aplomb. Not many other actors come to mind who can pull off a frantic matter-of-factness quite like Cage, a crucial quality needed to disarm the audience into rooting for a guy who gets stinking rich by selling guns to murderers. Equally likeable is Yuri’s best customer, Baptiste Senior (Eamonn Walker), the president of Liberia whose only competition for the prize of Most Ruthless Killer is his own son (Sammi Rotibi). Meanwhile, Ethan Hawke shows up every now and then as Jack Valentine, a by-the-book Interpol agent hot on Yuri’s trail.”

The screenplay is by director Andrew Niccol whose opening sequence is incredible and described by the Hollywood reporter, “The film opens with Yuri speaking to the camera (his narration runs throughout the film), but it’s the following sequence that pulls us in. Starting at a munitions factory in the Soviet Union, we follow a bullet from its creation as it travels through various ports on its way to an African country where it’s loaded into an AK-47 and shot into a child’s head — a powerful and stylish way to show us the tragedy of the arms business without being dogmatic.”

The question, the movie asks the viewer is a simple one — Is the ending a happy one or sad one? And in the answer lies your view of the state of the world.