Oliver Stones film, the first of a trilogy he made about the Vietnam War, was described as ‘a staggering study of war’ I would disagree; I would describe it as a staggering study of men at war. But I would agree that it is ‘an unforgettably authentic, modern classic’, a statement I would back up by reminding you that the movie won three Oscars, Best Picture, Best Director and Best Sound, which I would imagine, would have included one of the most moving of all the movie soundtracks Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber and one of the sixties most haunting tracks White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane from their album Surrealistic Pillow released in 1967, both of which added significantly to the movies atmospherics.
|The bitter conflict between these two men make war even harder for the men that serve under them.|
As well as directing and appearing in Platoon (1986) Stone also wrote the screenplay based on his own experiences as a United States infantryman - the first Hollywood movie to be made by a Vietnam veteran. It features many well known actors in supporting roles including Forest Whitaker and Johnny Depp but the three main stars are Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe and Charlie Sheen who plays Chris Taylor a middle class boy who is one of the rare ‘volunteers’ in his squad. It’s through this nineteen year-old that the film relates its story, told via a narrative ploy that involves narrating the letters Chris sends home to his grandma. These letters detail his relationship with the solders he serves with including the two sergeants who divide the platoon Elias Grodin (Defoe) and the psychotic Bob Barnes (Berenger). We also witness the deterioration of this young man and how he looses his judgement of what is right and what is wrong.
Not only is this movie one of Stones most accomplished film’s but it remains one of the most powerful modern war movies along side Michael Camino’s The Deer Hunter (1978) and Frances Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979). All three display what its like to have to handle the complexities of war and its affects on both the human body and the human spirit. Does any one remain the same after taking part in such inhumane carnage and always for reasons that are never ever really made clear by those that send young people to war in the first place?