This is the first film review we have included, and the reason for it is that "Lord of War" includes enough reality in its script for it to be a useful commentary on our times. The story is a simple one, no twists of the plot in this movie, Yuri Orlov, played by Nicolas Cage decides that selling guns is the way out of Little Odessa. At first he sells to the local criminals, then branches out, traveling abroad, but it is the breakup of the Soviet Union which gets him into the big time. His uncle, a general in the Ukraine, has access to the army stores, full of AK47s, tanks and helicopters, as the film says one of the biggest heists in history, as vast quantities of arms were simply stolen from the Ukraine.
Orlov then becomes heavily involved in supplying arms to Liberia, the Liberian President is modeled on the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor.
Charles Taylor is infamous for his election slogan -
�he killed my ma he killed my pa but I�ll vote for Charles Taylor�.
During Taylor's rule Liberia descended into anarchy and
up to 200,000 people were killed and more than 1 million were forced from their homes. See BBC country profile http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/country_profiles/1043500.stm
was also involved in promoting the civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone, one of the features of which was the use of amputations to intimate the civilian population. This war was only ended when UK and UN troops arrived in Sierra Leone.
The rest of the film focuses on Orlov�s growing awareness that he is in a dirty business, but as he says, he�s good at it and the margins are good. In two scenes he is forced to face the reality, once where he shoots a fellow arms dealer and secondly where his brother is shot trying to stop Orlov�s weapons being used to massacre villagers. When finally captured by Interpol he is quickly released, as the U.S. Government needs his services to deal with people they cannot negotiate with directly. The film ends by concluding that the President of the United States is the biggest arms dealer of all, and that five permanent members of the security council, the U.S., U.K., Russia, China and France, are the largest arms suppliers in the world.
I recommend this film, not because it is family entertainment (it is not), but because most of the incidents it describes are based on real events. It is too easy to dismiss the killing fields of Africa as a purely African affair. Many people, and governments, dealt with Charles Taylor, and he is not alone, the deaths of uncounted millions in the Congo, the anarchy of Somalia, the slaughter and �ethic cleansing� in Darfur, have been organized by men like Taylor, while the rest of the world has all too often looked the other way, or purchased the �blood diamonds� and rare minerals looted by these war lords.
Western middle men, like the fictional Orlov, have been the necessary channels for arms, diamonds and gold, making their margins, as children shoot each other with their AK47s, which are, as Orlov says, the real weapons of mass destruction.
You may also like to visit the Amnesty International Website, where they are campaigning for a global Arms Trade Treaty. Amnesty says:
A global Arms Trade Treaty is desperately needed now. It would create legally binding arms controls and ensure that all governments control arms to the same basic international standards. In short, it would help stop weapons falling into the hands of indiscriminate killers and human rights abusers.�