In the end, though, it is not the übermensch who offers deliverance from the nasty, brutish horrors of the river and the men of the forest. It is the perfectly ordinary man, the just-getting-by guy, Ed Gentry (Jon Voight), who transcends himself to survive. He is not inspired by a vision of the future, he does not aspire to be tested by man and nature. He's motivated by fear, pure and simple, and his desire to return to his normal life without that fear.
In the early parts of the story, Ed thinks Lewis is a little nuts, but he's fascinated by the idea that Lewis might be right aboutsomethinghe's not sure what. Obsessions like those of Lewis Medlock can create their own charisma, inspiring fear while pretending to resist it. Untested ersatz fortitude often looks impressive. The other businessmen from Atlanta, the soft-spoken Drew (Ronny Cox) and porcine Bobby (Ned Beatty), think Lewis is a lot nuts. In fact, they think he's dangerous. And they're right.
Me, I think Lewis is Vice President Dick Cheney's closet fantasy of himself, and as such, a sort of model for the Bush administration as a whole. And Ed, he's about the rest of us, just scared and trying to get by. And the river? That's the war in Iraq.