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International relations is a field of study, which revolves around the relations between states. States appear to be the leading actors in global affairs and both cooperation and conflict prevail in their interactions. Various filmmakers have closely followed the events in international politics, enabling them to create films to describe them. One of such films is “The Lord of War.” Released in 2005, the film titled “Lord of War” is the war that describes the conflict in the post-conflict war order, primarily, the deals in arms and their impacts on citizens. Benatar (2015) observes that the movie highlights the attributes of war and conflict in the contemporary world order, with the trade-in arms identified as dangerous trend to the survival and coexistence of people globally. The end of the Cold War did not mean that the world would experience a period of calmness. However, a new vacuum emerged; given the dominant players in the conflict such as the Soviet Union, no longer embrace an arms race. The essence of this essay is to examine the film Lord of War, with particular attention to the themes of international relations. Lord of War is a good basis for international relations conversations. This includes the ability to enforce laws collectively, the global criminal justice system, the ability to develop a worldwide framework for eliminating illegal trade in arms, and the imposition of sanctions to countries or actors that show less cooperation in attaining peace globally.

Illicit Smuggling of Arms
The existence of order in the world depends on the ability of nations to control the movement of weapons. According to Hamid (2006), the movie is a reflection of the disorderliness in the world that culminates in illegal trade in arms. A point worth making is that the subject of weapons and central are central in international relations. On one side, arms are considered to be a source of power and security while on the other side; they are a source of instability in the world. Arms trade may seem to be a dangerous practice, but it pays off, provided that one is ready to overlook the adverse impacts on humanity. Orlov looks concerned about the destruction that the weapons cause in the destinations, but he is forced to ignore the concerns, a factor that causes him to thrive in the illicit business.

The essence of the movie is to provide deep insights into the complexities. In Benatar’s (2015) analysis, Orlov starts and succeeds in the business because of his determination to break the law. Valentine emerges as a morally-upright officer, yet he does not manage to turn Orlov, despite having proof that he is an international criminal, whose activities escalate the human rights situation globally (Swimelar 2010). Most of the encounters between Orlov and Valentine results in similar occurrences. First, Valentine castigates Orlov for his involvement in illegal trading activities. Secondly, Orlov unhooks from the accusations by either invoking reason to justify the illicit trade or reminding Valentine of the inability of Interpol to prevent him from running the trade. Evident in the movie is the ranks of power and the role it players in the arms trade. Dmitrij Volkoff, who happens to be an uncle to Orlov, occupies the position of a major general in the red army. The Red army is out of power, meaning that it is less influential. This gives Orlov a significant influence, given his access to the weapons owned by the army (Benatar 2015). The movie reveals the issue of governance in a highly militarized country, where the possession of heavy weaponry by various groups creates different centres of power.

The movie exposes the riches that come with the involvement of an individual in illegal activities. Essentially, the illicit trade is costly as one must establish networks globally to enable the movement of the goods. Orlov supplies weapons to different conflict zones in the world, knowing well that they further fuel violence. Orlov gains a lot of power at the expense of the insecurity that comes with the arms deals he keeps striking.

Illicit Arms Trade and International Security
Security is one of the main concerns of people who study international relations. The realist view that is embedded in international relations studies reveals the intention of using weapons to acquire power and influence. According to Benatar (2015), the trafficking of arms, which is a thematic issue in the movie “Lord of War,” is one of the contemporary issues affecting many people across the continent. The proliferation of illegal arms and weapons across the world is the cause of the numerous adverse problems of insecurity in different parts of the world. The film introduces the audience to the critical issue of the arms trade. In the film, Cage plays the role of Yuri Orlov, a New Yorker born in Ukraine. Orlov is a discontented man whose quest for a good life leads him to traffic arms. He starts small but manages to establish illegal channels of arms trade worldwide, making him an extraordinary supplier of weapons to different players, including dictators, and militia organizations.

The theme of international security, more so, the enforcement of laws and the maintenance of law and order across the national boundaries play out in the film. While off the Colombian Coast, Orlov looks at a distance from the deck of a Panamanian-flagged freighter. The ship, also called Kristol, is set to deliver weapons in an undisclosed country. The team from Interpol, led by official Jack Valentine, closes in on Orlov’s ship. The call is a result of a suspicion that the cargo might be hiding something illegally. While remaining with a few minutes to board the ship, Orlov crafts a plan to deceive the Interpol team. He orders the crew to repaint the name of the ship. The ship is painted with a new name Kono, referring to an innocuous Dutch ship.

Orlov, who is the lead character in the film, plays the role of an arms dealer, who begins small but manages to establish a cross-national network to facilitate the trade. Orlov understands the consequences of the trade he is involved. He knows that it can be a severe case of insecurity in the world, even causing deaths. He clings on the phrase that “it’s not our business” whenever he learns about the adverse consequences that are associated with the arms and the arms business. At one point, while engaged in a conversation with the Interpol agent named Valentine, Orlov states that “I don’t want people to die. I wish that they miss, as long as they fire those bullets.”

The Maintenance of Law and Order Internationally
The raising of a Dutch flag in the place of the Panamanian flag accompanies the painting. Still unconvinced, Interpol opens one of the containers. In astonishment, they find potatoes in it. This does not mean that the ship is carrying potatoes. The real content, which is weapons, are concealed behind the pile of potatoes. With nothing to arouse more suspicion, the Valentine and the rest of the Interpol crew leave the ship.

The presence of Interpol and the decision of Orlov to make the Panamanian ship appear like a Dutch ship depicts international law, more so the question of sovereignty in international boundaries. Benatar (2015) contends that several questions regarding the role of the Interpol and the laws that facilitate its operations across national borders can arise from the scene. Interpol is a product of international law. The goal of the transnational law enforcement body is to enhance international cooperation between law enforcement agencies to end crime. The presence of Interpol at the scene is an indication that the international law is functional when it comes to transnational crimes such as illicit arms trade. Still, it is obvious that the law suffers from critical issues of enforcement. Orlov seems to have mastered the weaknesses of the law, as evidenced by his action of turning a Panamanian ship into a Dutch vessel only to avoid intense scrutiny from the Interpol officers. From the outset, Interpol looks like an influential agency with sophisticated equipment such as ships and human resource capacity to enforce laws. However, a close examination of the little tricks use by Orlov to camouflage against the suspicion raised by the Interpol opens up a discussion about the possibility of attaining transnational police cooperation. The agency’s operations are premised on the collaboration between the law enforcement agencies established under different state laws and which apply under national jurisdictions.

The movie depicts international law as a relevant force in curbing international crime; yet, it has many problems of enforcement, making it more of a perception rather than a reality. The global system itself appears to be a system that is full of flaws. These weaknesses make it difficult to establish law and order through international law. Orlov proves that he is familiar with the law of the sea, as evident in the changing of the flag when he received a call from the Interpol ship in the sea.

In conclusion, the movie, Lord of War, depicts a worrying trend in the world. The film is set up in such a way that it captures various themes in international relations, including insecurity, international law, human dignity, human rights, and international law. At the centre of the play is Orlov, whose determination to make it I life, leads him to the illicit trade in arms. His involvement in the business exposes the weaknesses of the established global order, more so, when one carefully examines the attributes of international law. Orlov has a mastery of international law, enabling him to explore its weaknesses by overlooking the role of established international security organs such as the Interpol. Guns and other weapons are dangerous; however, they are in high demand. Such a trend indicates the prevalence of conflicts in most parts of the world, and the inability to apply the principles of international cooperation in ending violence.

Benatar, Marco. 2015. Lord of War (Andrew Niccol, 2005): The maritime adventures of a gunrunner – A review by Marco Benatar. Retrieved from
Hamid, Rahul. 2006. “Lord of War.” CinĂ©aste 31(2): 52-55.
Swimelar, Safia. 2010. Human Rights through Film: An Essay and Review of Selected Films from the Human Rights Watch 2009 Film Festival. Human Rights Quarterly, 32(4): 1069-1078.

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