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Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) is a middle class American kid who goes off to fight in the Vietnam War. He's very patriotic and believes he should do his bit for the cause and his country. Once he arrives in Vietnam he soon realises the futility of war and struggles to survive the rigours of jungle life. He's also pulled between two men, both sergeants. Staff Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger) is the tough nut, hardened by battle, a brutal killer who uses the war as an excuse to carry out his sadistic ways. Sergeant Elias Grodin (William Dafoe) is a bit of a soft touch, a godly figure who has already cast aside his demons and wants to save the souls of his fellow soldiers. The drugs he takes are to keep away the hideous images of this brutal war.
Stone certainly captures the brutality and disorientation of war in Platoon. We are able to follow this cruelty at ground level. We see how nightmarish it is to spend day after day in blazing heat where there never seems to be any let up. The natural environment is tough, can send men insane. We also see how the poor and uneducated grunts (another name for Infantrymen in the Vietnam War) don't have a sense of purpose, how everything can easily fall apart. Unless you have been in a war like Vietnam or any war really, it is difficult to imagine the sheer mental and physical exhaustion that these soldiers suffered from. No wonder their morale was low.
The reason I chose to watch Platoon was because Johnny Depp has a small role in the film and being a fan of all things Johnny I found myself buying the DVD. In general, I am not really into war films but part of me is glad I watched Oliver Stone's Platoon; I think he has done a great job. Based on his own experience in Vietnam, his firsthand knowledge and memories have enabled him to convey the horrors of war in a frantic, disorientating way; he has created a great antiwar film. He hasn't left anything out and certainly hasn't coated the film in sugar.
I didn't find Platoon an easy film to watch at all. Sometimes I found it impossible to follow as it seemed too frantic. Some scenes are horrific especially the one in the village. I found myself covering my face with my hands when this came on the screen. Charlie Sheen as Chris Taylor is very good; he is solid in this role. I believed in his innocence at the beginning and how he had it taken away from him and became more corrupt as time passed. Barnes was very convincing as the twisted, brutal sergeant and Dafoe really shone as the good guy. Perhaps showing the contrast between a good guy and a bad guy is a little clichéd but I think it worked in the film.
There are many battle scenes in the film, some are exhausting and I found myself drained from watching so many horrific scenes. Stone certainly doesn't glorify war in this film. I also found the way he focused on the interactive side of war, showing soldiers submerged in battles with the enemy was realistic.
I thought the acting ability of all the cast was very good. I was able to get inside their heads, understand their fears, dreams and see their visions. Even the members of the supporting cast were believable. Although Johnny is a newcomer in this movie I could see he had great potential and one day was going to become a star. I really believed he was Private Gator Lerner, the unfortunate translator who could speak a little Vietnamese. As for Charlie Sheen's narration I enjoyed it for a short time but then it began to get on my nerves. I thought it was far too verbose and insincere.
The sounds involved on the soundtrack are superb and well chosen; 'Tracks of my Tears' by Smokey Robinson, 'Respect' Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding and then there's Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, a beautiful, haunting piece of music that leaves me in tears.
The film runs for 120 minutes and was shot on location in Luzon, Philippines. I have never been there but I can imagine it must have been hell living in the holes in the ground when they were shooting manoeuvres. I read in one of my Depp biographies that Stone made each member of the cast take part in field training and he hired an ex- Vietnam veteran to get them physically in good shape.
Platoon has been given a 15 rating certificate. As this is a war film there are many graphic scenes of war and torture. The images are disturbing especially the violence that is carried out in the village scene and the language is quite strong. The 'F' word is used frequently and some of the language is of a sexual content.
I first came across Oliver Stone when I went to see Midnight Express at the cinema in 1987, he wrote the screenplay. I remember that film very well, it freaked me out completely. He's always been controversial in the way he deals with political and social issues. His take on things are usually uncompromising. The way he shows the realities of war and how it takes away the innocence of young men will leave you numb. It is an excellent film and I am not surprised it walked away with 4 Academy Awards in 1987.
There are a string of extras with this DVD. Some I have viewed and a couple I haven't yet looked at. I am not a great fan of extras. There are two commentaries, one with Stone and the other with military adviser, Dale Dye. The one with Stone talking about his experience as an Infantryman in the Vietnam War is fairly interesting although I did find his ramblings a bit too dry. The military commentary I didn't watch but I should think it will be interesting if you like military stuff. The deleted and extended scenes I did watch because there is one of Depp talking and other soldiers having conversations. It appears that a lot of Depp's scenes were actually cut from the film in the end. Other extras include 'Snapshot in Time', a discussion about the history of the Vietnam War and 'Creating the Nam,' a short film discussing the making and shooting of the film on location in the Phillipines.
A brilliant film.
This film is a great film set in the Vietnam war. Throughout this film is action, a strong hatred through friendly platoon soldiers and brutality. The action is very realistic and from the start of the film, it shows every characters feelings towards each other. Some are not happy to be there, some are just happy to kill some people. They're personalities range but they have to work as a team.
Some show brutality to Vietnamese civilians, and on one case, killing one. The sergeants of different units are arguing a lot and the soldiers often have to split up in the jungle, often leading to up close violence. The actors do a good job by the way the're character feels in the film.
There is a lot of blood and swearing, right from the beginning of the film, straight through to the end. Though this add's to the realism and show's you just how brutal war's are. Long range and close fighting are included and even fights within friendly units.
The intense action and suspense of the film grips you and the film never bores you, new fights and new turns coming round the bend wherever you go. The ending as most war films is epic and features a massive battle. Different weapons are used including bayonets, fire, and bombs. The war never stops in this film. A great war film that shows just how brutal the reality of war really is.
I personally loved the film. I love war films, especially with lot's of fighting and action. I got just what I wanted. I loved the ending, (I wont ruin it for you), but it was epic and an ending that I like that finishes off a great movie. There is hardly any bits of the film that I didn't like, all of it was fantastic.
This review is for the Ultimate Collectors Edition DVD.
Platoon is a film about the Vietnam war. It follows the story of Chris Taylor who was a rich boy who decided to volunteer for the army when he saw it was only the poor boys who were being sent out there. He thought this was wrong so wanted to make a change. The story is told through letters from Chris to his Grandma back home. The story is by Oliver Stone who fought in the war and he wanted to make a film about how it really was our there.
The film is very bloody and violent which you would expect from a war film. I think they were definitely trying to make you see what it would have been like for the soldiers our there in such bad conditions with their friends getting blown to bits.
I liked the way they showed the soldiers to be human and not heroes, the way they were scared our of their wits at times making them do rash things like shooting innocent people. You could see how hyped up they were at the time what with all the killing and maiming going on. I also thought it was good the way they covered the way the soldiers took drugs to help them get through the times and you could see how they would have easily become addicted to them causing major problems when they came back home what with the terrible way they had been living.
The scenes were shot really well, in the jungles with the light coming down through the trees so you got a lot of dark scenes which added to the tension of the story. The music going through the film was the very poignant Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber, whenever I hear this music now it always reminds me of this film.
The star of the film for me was Charlie Sheen as rich boy . He was excellent in this film, you could imagine how he was feeling at all times throughout the story and his portrayal was very believable as to how someone in his situation would have acted.
Also in the film were - Forest Whittaker as Big Harold, Tom Berenger as Sgt Barnes, Willem Dafoe as Sgt Elias, Keith David as King and a very young Johnny Depp as Lerner.
The film was made in 1986 and it was directed by Oliver Stone. It runs for 120 minutes and is rated a 15 in the UK.
I have the Ultimate Edition of this dvd which comes in a nice box which opens at the side. Inside you get two dvds, one with the film on it and one with Bonus Material. The first dvd also has two commentaries on it, one by Oliver Stone and one by Military Supervisor Captain Dale Dye. On the Bonus dvd you get "Tour of The Inferno" Making of Documentary, "One War Many Stories" Featurette, "Preparation for Nam" Featurette, TV Spots, Photo Gallery, Original Theatre Trailer.
The first documentary is brilliant, it talks to the actors and the director telling about how he got the actors ready to play the parts. He took them to the Phillipines and put them through two weeks of training like as if they were in the army plus they were in the jungle and had to dig their own homes for the weeks and live like they would have lived. It sounds like they had a hard time of it. It goes on with them talking about the making of the film. It was a really interesting documentary.
The second documentary was talking to Vietnam vets with them telling you real stories about their experiences in the war, some of them were quite emotional to watch.
The third documentary talks to vets about how they become to join up for the army and went off to fight in Vietnam.
TV Spots shows you three different trailers for the film.
The Gallery shows you stills from behind the scenes and some pics of poster art.
Also in the box you get a two page booklet type of thing telling you about the making of the film and you also get a collection of photo cards taken from the film which are really good. If you like the film I would definitely recommend you look for this edition. You can currently buy it from Amazon for £19.99. The normal edition is on sale for £3.97.
Oliver Stone's Platoon is one of the first war films I ever saw. Violent, unyielding and full of metaphor, it depicts the Vietnam War as one that is unnecessary and full of hatred, both within allies and towards enemies. It takes a young recruit, Chris, and places him in a bubbling troop of testosterone fuelled soldiers who have already seen some action and find it hard to accept him.
As events unfurl, Chris becomes more integrated into the team, despite an early slipup, and the real combat blossoms between the two sergeants in the platoon, Elias and Barnes. These two quite obviously hate each other, and Stone portrays Elias as the good guy with morals despite the war going on around him, and Barnes as the bad guy, excessively violent and more interested in his own gain and killing a few Viet Cong than asking himself why he's there.
What makes this riveting to watch is the combinations Stone uses. There's good acting, direction, visuals, atmosphere, and music throughout the film. The music is perhaps the most powerful element, a clever use of string classical music to provide tension that was attempted in films such as The Thin Red Line but ultimately didn't quite work. Stone has a good group of actors at his disposal, from a young Charlie Sheen as Chris, to the more established pair of warring soldiers as Willem Defoe plays Elias and the ever scarred and grumpy Tom Berenger takes on the gritty role of Barnes. They are ably supported by a good cast that includes Johnny Depp and Keith David, and all acting is convincing.
However, it's not all plain sailing, and there were parts when I was a little disappointed. The story lost its way at points, and some of the attempts to drive home the harsh conditions fell slightly short. There is a tendency to over-politicise events here, something which was attempted with success in sequel Born On The Fourth Of July. However, the cold and paranoid jungles of Vietnam weren't really the best place for political statements, even though it's every director's right to show his personal feelings. Ultimately, it detracts slightly from the passionate aggression from those on screen, particularly when you see the struggle for Chris' approval between the gung ho Barnes and the softly softly Elias. Those bits are brilliant.
Overall, it's a film I happily recommend, and one that you'll likely find easy to watch over and over again. It's not perfect, but gets home the message about the war being a messy and unpopular thing for many, showing what it can do to you in a positive as well as negative way. Well worth a watch: beautiful use of musical, acting and visual combining to make some stunning and memorable scenes. Not perfect, but very impressive indeed. Recommended.
War huh, what is it good for? Well films for a start.
The first of Vietnam Vet Oliver Stone's `Nam trilogy which included Born on the 4th of July and Heaven and Hell. Filmed in the Philippines it features a lot of young actors that soon become household names such as Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen , Forest Whitaker and Basile Achara,although possibly only in the Achara house.
Part of an explosion of bigger budget Vietnam films in the mid to late 80s it won the 1986 Oscar awards for best picture, best director, best sound and best film editing.
Tom Berenger Sergeant Barnes
Willem Dafoe Sergeant Elias
Charlie Sheen Chris
Young Chris quits College and signs up to do his bit in the Vietnam war, upon arriving at his base somewhere near the Cambodian border he's welcomed with the sight of bodies being loaded up and flown out. After being assigned to Lieutenant Wolfe platoon he starts to develop and admiration for the older soldiers and Sergeant Barnes in particular, as he is fresh off the plane and not paid his dues yet they are more than reluctant to accepting him as one of them.
During a patrol the unit is ambushed while sleeping and suffers casualties, Chris is blamed for sleeping on his watch despite passing the role on to someone else. This causes a row between the two Sergeants, Barnes and Elias; Chris meanwhile gets lightly wounded during the shooting and receives treatment at the hospital.
Upon his return after healing Chris is invited to join an underground clique that spends their time drinking, getting high and listening to music. It's here he strikes up a friendship with King (Keith David) and begins to fit in more with army life under the watch of Elias.
On a routine patrol they come across a village where food and guns are being stored, during the search of the village Chris loses the plot and starts shooting at an unarmed (and unlegged) villager. Despite the villagers protests that they are not helping the North Vietnamese Barnes kills a woman in front of her family, on seeing this Elias gets into a fight with Barnes.
Back at the base Elias reports the actions of Barnes to the Captain but because of a lack of men nothing can be done. On another patrol they get ambushed again and Elias, Chris and two others go off into the jungle to intercept more Vietnamese while Barnes and his lot hold their position. After giving the order to retreat Barnes goes looking for Elias `s squad and after sending Chris and the others back he goes deeper into the jungle to find Elias. When found Barnes fires three shots at Elias and leaves him for dead..........
Gaa,that's 2 hours I wont be getting back. For a film directed by a guy that was there Id expected a little more depth and meaning to this instead of the usual war is bad cack on offer. The majority of the characters merge into one another and a few times I was thinking "I thought he was dead "when another faceless drone popped up. Also for a war film theres a surprising lack of action, ok the Deer Hunter got away with that because of the story and acting, but this has neither.
Charlie Sheen is not a leading man, his lack of charisma and presence doesn't help and Tom Beranger uses his full range here seamlessly switching between shouting and mumbling. The cast isn't a total washout , Willem Defoe is his usual interesting self and John C McGinley is fine as the brown-nosing Sergeant O`Neil, but other than that it's just a collection of glorified extras with some soon to be big names.
Other than the less than inspiring war isn't fun theme we get an almost religious twist with Barnes as the devil and Elias as Christ fighting for Chris`s soul, even that adds little and you can pretty much tell the scarred Barnes is the bad guy even before he half opens his mouth to mumble something from the clichéd script.
Now wheres my copy of Full Metal Jacket ?
Another superb war film, and like Full Metal Jacket it focuses on the Vietnam war. It was the first of three films directed by Oliver Stone that focus on the war, and is the best of them.
Starring Willem Defoe, Tom Berenger and Charlie Sheen, and with strong support from John C. McGinley, Forest Whitaker and a young Johnny Depp, this is based entirely in Vietnam during the war in 1967.
Chris (Sheen) is a new recruit who has just been transferred to Vietnam. He was a college student, but felt that he had to serve his country so he stopped college and joined the army. Immediately upon arrival, he sees dead bodies being loaded on to a plane, and it sets the tone for the rest of the film.
He is placed in the platoon that is being commanded by Lieutenant Wolfe, who is a young man who hasn't really got much experience. He has two Sergeants who are under his command. Sergeant Elias (Defoe) is the more compassionate of the Sergeants. Staff Sergeant Barnes (Berenger) is severely disturbed and violent, having seemingly lost much of his humanity.
On one of his first nights, Chris is on night duty. It is then his turn to sleep, so he wakes the next man up. However, then next man continues to sleep, and the platoon come under attack. Sergeant Barnes blames Chris and takes a dislike to him.
As the war continues, we see the differences between the two Sergeants, and soon they are involved in a fight when Sergeant Barnes threatens a child. Barnes is out for revenge.
So there is now a war inside the army, and a war outside in Vietnam. The tension builds up as the film nears a very violent and poignant climax, with everyone arguing and no one knowing who to trust or who to listen to.
The acting in this film is on fire, it's that good. Willem Defoe and Tom Berenger are both as brilliant as each other in this, while Charlie Sheen adds for some cracking support in what is his best role. Defoe is very believable as the compassionate Sergeant Elias, while Tom Berenger makes the character of Sergeant Barnes truly hateful in his single best role.
The action scene are directed to perfection by Oliver Stone. He's a Vietnam veteran himself, so the scenes are totally realistic and much of the story is based upon many of his own experiences, which makes this film all the better. The only thing that lets it down is that there is a constant political undertone in this film that at times takes the point away from the film. Films that have a political message sometimes detract from what is important. We shouldn't be made to feel bad that leaders make bad decisions. We should be focused on those that fought in the war, and though it makes very little difference in this film, it's not as good or as unbiased as Full Metal Jacket.
I didn't watch platoon when it first came out way back in 1986 but watched it recently after watching a few other Vietnam related movies and it was pretty impressive but again quite a harrowing account. There have been so many films on the subject I thought it might be just another one that would add to the list but this was very moving and seen through the eyes of a young soldier.
For me of all the war movies I've watched this remains one of the most powerful in my opinion. Directed by Oliver Stone it is one of his most complete and accomplished works over the years.
This was the first of Oliver Stone's 'Vietnam War Trilogy' and for me was the best one. The others being 'Born on the Fourth of July' and 'Heaven and Earth'.
The story follows the experiences of 19 year old Chris Taylor played by Charlie Sheen. He is full of unrealistic ideas about war is like and pictures it being more glamorous than it is in reality. From a middle-class background, he volunteers for the army, still unaware of the horrors that would await him.
Once he is in Vietnam his illusions change and he realises what it's all about and it's not good. His letters home which are actually narrated by Charlie Sheen himself depict his feelings at the time, from his relationships that he develops over time with fellow soldiers and also with the two sergeants of the platoon who divide the group. You have Elias Grodin played by William Defoe who uses drugs to escape the horror and the nightmare going on around him as a release. Then there is the dangerous Bob Barnes played by Tom Berenger. Here is a man who is violent to the extreme and you wouldn't want to cross him.
When I watched Platoon I felt it was quite unique in it's perspective on the war itself and the way things are seen through the eyes of a naive young solider thrust into the midst of the atrocities with no idea what to expect but having to learn and grow up fast. I felt great unease and discomfort watching it as you don't know where or when the next attack will come from but you know it's coming. At the same time I didn't want to look away for fear of missing something important.
Slowly but surely the character played by Charlie Sheen becomes disillusioned with it all as I'm sure alot of American soldiders did and realise that it's not worth fighting over. Charlie Sheen puts in a good performance and shows his versatily as nowadays I always think of him as a comedy actor in Hotshots and Two and a Half Men for example. But he really gives us a great insight into the war and the horror that unfolded around the soldiers of the time caught up in the middle of it.
Highly recommended Vietnam war film if you've never seen it...well worth taking a look
Whenever this had been on TV and hubby said he wanted to watch it I said no as it really didn't appeal tome but after seeing a trailer for it on a recent DVD which we watched I thought that it did actually look quite good. I managed to find this DVD in Tesco on my last visit so I picked it up for him.
The film is about Chris who volunteered for the US Army and ended up serving in Vietnam. He is a new recruit when he arrives there and some of the men don't like him. He is finding it hard as he is given the toughest and dirtiest jobs to do but he manages to get them done and soon earns the respect of the men. Chris soon fits in with the men and gets invited to join them for their evening rests, drinking bear and smoking dope.
Another battle which Chris is finding is with the two company Sergeants who do not see eye to eye and Chris finds this is a battle which he cannot cope with onto of seeing his friends getting killed by the Vietnamese soldiers.
Just how will Chris adjust to life at war and will he ever see and end to the war between his two Sergeants?
I found that this film was indeed nothing like I had expected it to be. There was a story to it and not just men being blown up. I found the story which followed Chris to be very emotional at times and I think Charlie Sheen did a great job portraying this character. I liked the naivety which he had at the beginning of the film being unaware of the horrors which faced him and I enjoyed seeing his character grow and toughen up as the film went on. He was a likable character and I enjoyed seeing him trying to do the decent thing for people during the war and not just being completely brutal and uncaring.
The two Sergeants did give the story some depth and I think it was a different aspect to the war which is never really seen or mentioned in other war films. I think the two actors who played these parts were excellent and made their character very believable but I really did not like the one of the sergeants as he was just to brutal and hard. There were a lot of supporting actors in the film and I was actually surprised to see a small role by Johnny Depp which I found was excellent but I did not like the ending they gave him! A few of the actors included, William Defoe, Tom Berenger and Kevin Dillon.
The film was set in the Vietnamese jungle and I thought that all of the sets and scenery was excellent done. I thought that it all looked authentic and real. The special effects throughout the film really were amazing and looked so real. I think this is what helped make the film so good as some of the horrors and wounds which we saw looked so authentic and at times were horrid to watch. The music was also another good point to the film and I think it helped a lot with the tensions and emotions of the film. I was always able to tell when the men were going to be attacked as a certain piece of music was played which did actually help and give me a bit of warning!
I found that the whole film showed a good side to the US army as well as a bad one, there was a good camaraderie between a lot of the men which was nice to see and how they would help the innocent locals but then there was the few which would kill anyone and anything in sight and this for me was not nice viewing and at times I did shout at the screen to try and stop someone innocent being shot, I know it s daft but this is how much I got into the story and the whole emotions of the film!
The DVD which we have does not have any bonus features apart from a theatrical trailer but I did not watch this. The running time of the film is 1 hour and 55 minutes and the certificate is a 15 as there is a lot of violence, string language and drug use. I do definitely agree with this rating as at times I did find it hard to watch and do not recommend this to anyone under the age of 15.
I managed to get this DVD for just £3 in Tesco which I felt to be a great price for such a moving, emotional and well made film. Overall I do recommend this as it shows the story on one innocent man who is thrown into a horrific and brutal war and his struggle to deal with this and loose all his innocence.
note: also appears in part on The Student Room and Flixster
Platoon is an extremely powerful film about the Vietnam and is frequently regarded as the very best war films ever made. Perhaps what really makes it so powerful is that its writer and director, Oliver Stone, was actually a soldier in Vietnam, meaning that he's able to better avoid romanticism and sensationalism than any other director that has made a film about the subject. This is gritty, visceral filmmaking that's topped with a slew of career-best performances, and of course, stunning writing and direction as usual from Stone himself.
Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) is a young man who has abandoned his studies to enlist in the Vietnam war. On arrival, he quickly learns the state of affairs - soldiers are dying at an expontential rate, and of course, soldiers are shellshocked left and right, left with life-changing traumatic mental disorders from the horrors that they have seen.
What really makes this so engaging is the characterisation - Taylor is torn between the more compassionate and level-headed Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe), and the extremely crude and harsh, but seemingly invincible Staff Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger). Each promotes their own system of keeping alive, and Taylor will have to decide which he thinks is going to work. The level of verisimilitude that Stone seems to capture, according to historians and critics, is quite harrowing - this is one of the darkest films about the Vietnam war that really makes it as much an internal struggle as it is one against an unseen enemy. This is gritty, visceral filmmaking, and arguably Stone's very best film, and extremely well acted by Berenger and Dafoe in particular.
A fantastically brutal war film about cabin fever in the Vietnam war. The film becomes more and more aggressive, ending in a violent finale that is also iconic (namely DaFoe's arm-raising as the helicopter fires at him from above). Great stuff.
Platoon - Directed by Oliver Stone and released in 1986. Approx 120 minutes runtime.
Platoon is one of Oliver Stones classic Vietnam War movies, one which won 4 Oscars and another 18 different awards whilst being nominated for 9 others.
Charlie Sheen (Chris)
Johnny Depp (Lerner)
Keith David (King)
Forest Whitaker (Big Harold)
Willem Dafoe (Sgt. Elias)
Tom Berenger (Sgt. Barnes)
John C. McGinley (Sgt. O'Neill)
Francesco Quinn (Rhah)
Kevin Dillon (Bunny)
Reggie Johnson (Junior)
Mark Moses (Lt. Wolfe)
Chris Pedersen (Crawford)
Chris Taylor (Sheen) is fresh from basic training when he arrives in Vietnam. After dropping out of college to join the infantry he soon realizes that being the new recruit get him little respect from the other more experienced soldiers. He has a lot to learn and it takes some close call's and various enemy ambushes for the rest of the troop to start bonding with him.
Barnes (Tom Berenger) and Elias (Willem Dafoe) are Taylor's two sergeants and they couldn't be two more different characters. Barnes is a tough talking veteran soldiers, who thinks it is right to inflict pain and suffering upon both the enemy and the innocent. Elias on the other hand is, despite also being a veteran soldier, more in touch with reality and the war has not had the effect on him as it has Barnes.
The differences between the two are the cause of a rift in the ranks and results in a power struggle which splits the platoon in two.
There are enough battle scenes in this film to keep your juices flowing. With both Berenger & Dafoe playing such strong characters you will find yourself admiring both the level headedness of Dafoe and the no-nonsense nature of Berenger.
I enjoyed this film so much I have seen it over 5 times and never get tired of watching it. You can really picture how a new recruit entering a platoon of more experiences men would struggle to cope with the pressure and make mistakes that, in war, could prove costly.
It is easy to see why there were so many American casualties through 'Blue-on-Blue' or 'Friendly Fire' as the camera gets right into the thick of the actions making it feel like you are there watching a magnificent scene evolve in to an enormous fire fight. Sometimes without knowing who is shooting at whom and where your men are on the ground.
Platoon is the first of three Vietnam War movies by Stone, following this were 'Born on the Fourth of July' (starring Tom Cruise and in which Tom Berenger also appeared) and Heaven and Earth. However having seen both of these films I feel neither is as good as Platoon and Stone, who despite having made numerous other hit films since, will struggle to direct a more stunning and impacting film.
This is one film you will not regret buying and one you will not forget in a hurry!
Possibly Oliver Stone's best film (himself a veteran of the conflict). This is the key here I think: it is a very personal account of mordern warfare, and we find that madness is not only in the madcap fighting against the enemy, but on his own side too.
It is not only an exceptionally engaging narrative of Vietnam but one which genuinely explores and celebrates the types of men involved, their struggle with the tendencies or weaknesses in themselves and against what a victory over those weaknesses might mean as a soldier in such conditions.
What makes it one of the best war movies is this exploration - as brilliant as Saving Private Ryan is a tribute - is where men become released from the constraints of society and become brutal and amoral beneath the threat of death. The special society of the army in the jungle reflects the extremes of emotion they must endure that leads to deeper bonds and more profound hates.
The threat of a loss of an inner sense of humanity is recognized by the hero of the film (Charlie Sheen) and by the character Elias (Wilhem Dafoe, who is ultimately made a sacrifice to it).
Others like Barnes (Tom Berenger), deny this inner sense of humanity, scorning its existence and using such scorn as strength but who, the film may imply, are wrong.
All of them may be victims of this tendency in the theatre of war - but it is only Elias, the good soldier and side to man, who is worthy to survive and yet it is he who perishes on the field, suggestive of what this war really achieved.
The three principle characters excel in conveying the crucial antagonism and tensions between them. Our narrator ends by trying to make sense of it all, and looking to the future. We know that the film we have watched has been a part of this process.
A brilliant depiction of a place - this time Vietnam - where mentality and emotion could be forced towards irrational and savage extremes... reaching a point where a sense of responsibility for what resulted was lost.
The music - Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber, a modern American composer - is used perfectly in this film. Many associate the theme with this film now.
Platoon. Film review only.
Directed by Oliver Stone
Produced by Arnold Kopelson
Written by Oliver stone
Starring, amongst others Charlie sheen, willem Defoe, and Tom Berenger.
Released first in 1986, Platoon received a rather mixed reception. The strange thing is, that it was both praised and criticised for exactly the same reason. Quite simply it was seen as being too realistic.
Platoon is, in essence, a gritty and truthful vision of war. A lot of people thought that it went too far. However, I think that it was high time that a film was made that did not try and sugar coat war.
Unfortunately, all too many people on this planet know the truths of war. I myself have recently lost a member of my family, through the act of war.
Criticism, or not, the film won four academy awards, including best picture in 1986. Wow - 1986. Hard to believe that this film is 22 years old. It still plays well amongst modern day war films, despite their higher budgets, and better special effects. Just goes to show you that, money, and fancy pants effects don't necessarily make a movie good. They need to have a story that can be felt by all. Platoon certainly does have that. And its realism is added to, by the fact that its director was using life experience to base his direction, not the views of others. Neither was he basing the movie on what other directors had done before him. Feelings for him were raw, and this shone through in the film itself.
The film is harrowing. The film is convincing. Quite frankly, the film is brutal. In my opinion, though that makes it perfect to remember all those that have died to save us and others throughout the world.
In brief, the film follows the relationships of a platoon of soldiers in Vietnam. They have their good times, they have their bad times. It concentrates on how these soldiers interact, and how war maddens them, and sets them off on each other. It promotes the thought that the only enemy is war itself.
When the platoon are set upon by the Vietcong, after a senior officer falls asleep, the new boy gets the blame, and arguments start in the camp. Then, on a routine sweep, the platoon is ambushed. The belief is held that one of the platoon is passing information to the other side. Thereafter, there is as much hatred inside the platoon itself, as there is for the other side.
In the climactic scenes, two of the officers are about to kill themselves, only to be knocked unconscious be a napalm strike. On waking up together in the hospital, they continue and one is shot. Final scenes include the surviving officer flying away, looking down at the destruction, and crying.
Excellent performances throughout, but for me this film was the making of sheen, who plays the young college student, who give that up for the lure of war. I think that he is the personification of the films tagline. The first casualty of war is innocence. This is never as true as in his case. We follow him on his journey from young boy, to a man in leave of his senses. Truly gripping stuff throughout.
Coincidentally, this film was one of the first ever performances for a young Jonny Depp. We may remember his first films as being Edward scissorhands, and what's eating Gilbert grape. But before all that he had roles in the first nightmare on Elm Street, and platoon.
For me, this film is one of those films that changes history. It paved the way for other films in the genre to follow. Graphic, brutal, but most of all honest. For those who haven't seen it, do so now. For those who have, do so again. And when you're watching, remember those who have gone before.
Platoon had a lasting, profound impact when it hit the cinemas way back in '86. It was not the first film to be set in Vietnam during the US's "Police action", but it was the first one to be based directly on the experiences of a grunt that had been there. Vietnam has always been a difficult subject for many Americans to relate to, a deeply unpopular war that culminated in a humiliating defeat at the hands of a 3rd world army and a strident wake up call to the myth of invincibility of the US armed forces. Before this movie, there was the jingoistic and laughable "The green berets" starring John Wayne, a self-proclaimed patriot who never served himself and on the other side of the fence was the somewhat dreamlike "Apocalypse Now" which while set in Vietnam was based upon the book "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad, based in Africa.
Oliver Stone Stone served with the United States Army from April 1967 to November 1968 in Vietnam, not as a REMF (Rear-echelon MF) but rather on active service in what many vets refer to as the "Green Hell". Much like the central character in Platoon, Stone volunteered and was not drafted. His experiences there (wounded several times) made reintegration back into society difficult. He had seen "The green berets" and was furious, the reason why he put pen to paper and started to write the script for "Platoon", loosely based on what he had seen and done, but also many other soldiers he has served with. It was an uphill struggle, but the result was a multi-oscar winning film that achieved arguably everything that he had originally set out to do. Stone would go on to make pretentious turkeys such as "Natural born killers" and expand upon the Vietnam theme with two other films, "Born on the 4th of July" and "Heaven and Earth".
Platoon concerns the tour of duty suffered by a idealistic young man, Chris Taylor who volunteers for active service much to the amusement of the poor black and white trash drafted to fight and die for rich men that profit by the war whilst keeping their own progeny well clear of any danger. (The Alabama National Guard springs to mind) The film begins with the arrival of "new meat" disembarking from a Hercules and blinking in the harsh sunlight and drifting dust of an airbase underscored by the superb "adagio for strings". One of the first things the new guys see are a series of body bags being piled up to make the return journey, a sobering reminder that many of them would be leaving the same way. From there, we plunge straight into the jungle on patrol where the newbies are harrassed mercilliously by the vets all about them, themselves counting the days until their own tours are over and they can go home. As Chris relates "They say that if you're going to get it in the 'Nam, best to get killed in the first few weeks - theory being you don't suffer that much".
The Platoon that Pvt. Taylor is now a part of is commanded by the borderline psychotic Staff Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger), a scarred, bitter man with no tolerance for screw-ups or dissent. Someone who places no limits on what he will do in order to get the job done, especially to civilians. An attitude made more frightening by the fact that he genuinely believes in what he's doing. The other senior non-com is his diametric opposite, Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe) who has been in-country for three tours, disillusioned by what is happening, the reasons as to why he enlists in never made clear and pretty much open to conjecture. The unit is split into two sections and each section reflects the squad leaders in question, even down to how they spend their time off-duty. Barnes' men posture, drink and gamble while talking with distain of the "hop-heads" across the compound, Elias's soldiers who spend their time getting high on drugs as a way to forget if just for a little while what tomorrow may bring.
The soldiers under Barnes' sway include the obsequious Sergeant O'Neil (John C McGinley), the unstable Pvt. Bunny (Kevin Dillon) and the religious Pvt. Rodriguez (Chris Castellejo). Those on Elias's side in the "Underworld" include the gravel-voiced Rhah (An excellent Francesco Quinn), Big Harold (Forrest Whittaker), Pvt. King (Keith David) and Pvt. Lerner (Johnny Depp). Other members of the Platoon seem to have no fixed alleigence such as Pvt. Junior Martin (Reggie Johnson) who has no intention of dying "for the white man" or Sgt. Warren (Tony Todd). The nominal leader of the platoon is the fresh faced Lt.Wolfe (Mark Moses) who is treated with good-natured contempt by Barnes who overrides him at almost every decision. On their first real patrol, Junior falls asleep on watch after being woken by Taylor and handed the claymore remote. The platoon is ambushed by NVA and the man who has the first line in the movie, Pvt. Gardner (Bob Orwig) is shot and killed. Junior denies being relieved and Taylor gets rousted by the senior members of the squad, especially Barnes who seems to suspect that Junior was lying, so warns both of them. Here's the conundrum around Barnes. He is a bigot, a murderer and a liar himself, yet he is also a strong leader, a good, experienced soldier and someone who tries not to get his men killed and as such, it is easy to see why he has his own supporters.
As time goes by, Taylor's letters home to his grandma change in tone up until the point where he stops writing entirely, confessing to King that "There does'nt seem much point anymore." After a few months he has woken up to the fact that the whole war is a horrible mess and one that might kill him. His admiration has switched from Barnes to Elias and that is in many ways the central theme of Platoon, the struggle for Chris's soul between the brutal yet pragmatic Barnes and the far more ethically-minded, philosophical Elias. To make matters worse, while on patrol they discover a tunnel complex. Elias goes down on his own with a pistol and a flashlight while they sweep the area. Several members of the team die in a booby-trap while a third is abducted only for his corpse to be found mutilated and tied to a stake by the Vietcong. Seething with rage, the Platoon decends on the nearby Vietnamese village seeking righteous justice. The fact that the villagers are frequently stuck in the middle between the VC and the US troops matters not at all. Murders and rapes begin to occur and Taylor quickly comes to his senses while Bunny is in his element. Barnes shoots the wife of the village headman and then puts a pistol to the head of his eight-year old daughter demanding he admit to being VC. Just before the scene can deteriorate into a Muy Lai, Elias arrives, aghast by what he sees. Barnes warns him to stay out of it and Elias launches himself bodily at him. The two roll on the ground, punching and gouging while being cheered on by their supporters. They are finally seperated as Wolfe recieves orders to torch the village. Taylor rescue a pubescent child from being gang raped by his comrades while they spit on him.
Barnes swears revenge while Elias tries to go to the company commander Cap. Harris (Dale Dye - another real life 'Nam veteran) to get Barnes removed before he kills more civilians. Many of Barnes' lackeys line up behind him to help deny the charges while muttering of the need to frag Elias. However, going by the look upon Barnes' face, he has something more personal and less visable in mind. Meanwhile, intel points to the movement of an entire NVA (North Vietnamese Army) division in the hills and valleys dangerously close to the fire base. The Platoon has to return to the area to conduct several probes to determine whether there is any truth in this. There is. I will stop here in order to avoid putting in too much in the way of spoliers.
Platoon, as I wrote at the beginning of the interview, had a profound impact on its release. Vietnam veterans, generally despised by the public as unwelcome reminders of an uncomfortable memory saw a softening of the attitudes towards them. The fact that not only was the US armed forces not invincible, but also capable (and guilty) of atrocities that were ignored or dismissed was something that would have been unheard of in a domestically produced film even a decade earlier. Platoon paved the way for the filming of "Hamburger Hill" and "Full Metal Jacket" and no doubt helped rise the circulation of autobiographical books on 'Nam, such as the excellent "Chickenhawk" by Robert Mason. But above all of these factors, Platoon is simply a superb film with great acting that is quite simply a "must see", particularly in wide screen with dolby surround sound.
So is this "Special edition" worth getting at all, or is it yet another callous attempt by the distributor to estort more money frrom the public? I am happy to report that this version is well worth buying if all you have is the orginal "bare-bones" edition. There are about an extra 6 minutes worth of scenes added, and whilst they offer nothing crucial or central to the plot, they are in my opinion well worth the inclusion. You can find the normal commentaries and TV spots, but the only extra apart from the extra scenes that I found worth watching was the 50-minute documentary "Tour of the Inferno". Many members of the cast get a chance to speak of their experiences, such as when Dafoe talks about flying onsite early to get into character, going to sleep and waking up to watch tanks rumbling by beneath his balcony as the coup against the president began in the Phillipines where the film was shot. Depp (possibly the coolest man on the entire planet) tells of having to reshoot his "death" scene again and again and again lying face up in heavy rain while Stone shouted "Bullsh@t! - Do it again!!" until he got the performance he wanted. McGinley refers to how scared and tired and depressed he got during the pre-production military training they were given, much harder than anyone had expected - up to and including digging foxholes, setting tripwires and night watches. Dyer who trained them, laughs micheviously as he recalls giving the cast firm instructions to only use semi-automatic fire with their weapons (blanks naturally) and then sending a troop of goats through their tripwires at about 2 o'clock in the morning. Said cast went through entire clips in seconds. There are also more sobering accounts, including live footage of the war.
The special edition can be picked up still, usually second hand for as little as £4 plus delivery from an Amazon partner. It seems to no longer be produced as "The Ultimate Edition" is now out, containing virtually nothing extra useful, but definately making the "callous attempt" category referred to earlier.
The Vietnam war seems to be one subject in the film world that has thrown up a host of well respected movies. Unlike the glorification and propaganda overtones that are prevalent amongst those that retell the Second World War, by the time directors began to tackle the subject of Vietnam, a very different attitude was in the air and a more realistic and neutral position was taken. Amongst the short list of worthy productions regarding this period of Americas military history is Platoon.
Oliver Stones 1986 film is based around the experiences of a green recruit in 1967 in the jungle and villages of Vietnam, Charlie Sheen makes a good job of this role as Chris, a nervous and bewildered infantryman, with possibly more than a little of Stones own experiences of this war being woven into the part. Chris finds himself in a unit that is divided into basically two factions with their own warring leaders. Tom Berenger is Sergeant Barnes, the dark hero of the unit who leads the career soldiers of the platoon, these men are mainly white, brutal and at home in the surreal, immoral and violent world they find themselves in. Willem Defoe is his opposite number, Sergeant Elias, his followers are a mix of black soldiers, cannabis smokers and short term conscripts. Barnes is a ruthless killer who appears immortal, whereas Elias has a more humane approach towards leadership, both men are combat experienced and are the real leaders of the unit, their lieutenant being as green as some of the newly arrived soldiers, or new meat, themselves. Chris has to decide where he fits in to the rival factions. Are men like Barnes created by such wars as this or is Elias way better?
The trigger point of the story comes when Barnes, in the absence of Elias, leads a revenge attack on a Vietnamese village in response to the death of one of his men at the hand of the Viet Cong. The village experiences brutal treatment and upon his return Elias is enraged to find out what has happened. The rival sergeants become engaged in a war between themselves and control of the unit is the goal. The soldiers that they lead are forced to take a stand on the different methods employed by their superiors, is there room for morals or is the only way to survive to be as brutal and inhumane as everyone else?
Stones film focuses not so much on the tactics and strategies of war, heroics and glory are not the style here, this is an examination of the conflicts amongst the American unit itself. Barnes is trying to be a warrior-god, fighting the war on his own terms, and allowed to do so by the inactivity of his superior officer. Chris as narrator of the piece takes us through the turmoil faced by an innocent young man amongst all of this chaos, as he is slowly drawn into the battle for hearts and minds within his unit. The final scene also highlights the futility and immorality of war when the American camp is over run and a called in napalm strike indiscriminately kills US and Viet Cong troops alike. Willem Dafoe also provides one of the most enduring images from any war film, kneeling down, arms flung in the air, as he succumbs to a hail of enemy bullets in a scene bereft of sound and overlaid with haunting music to give the scene an otherworldly feeling.
Although most of the players in this film were fairly unknown at the time, almost all went on to carve out successful careers and become household names. Berenger, Defoe and Sheen carry the main responsibility in what is basically a three man piece but, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Francesco Quinn and Kevin Dillon all feature. Although it is an action packed film, the story is based on the acting ability of the main characters and all manage to turn in a first class performance. Even if you are not a fan of war movies, this film is worth watching for a thoughtful and dark insight into the affects of war on young men.
Vicious, exciting and lyrical in equal doses, Oliver Stone's most personal film is still his best (well, we'll have to wait and see "Alexander"). Following a young recruit (Charlie Sheen ((original choice was Keanu Reeves but he didn't like the violence))) on his first tour of duty, it's a harsh account of lost innocence, with Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe in fabulous form as the two very different sergeants who shape him. There are rough spots, but only "Apocalypse Now" pips "Platoon" as best 'Nam movie ever. And there'll never be better support to "Platoon" than this double-discer. As well as the usual trailers, TV spots and picture gallery, you get a behind-the-scenes feature and two magnificent commentaries. The first, from Stone, mixes on-set tales with pained remembrances of his own time in the war, while the second, from military advisor Captain Dale Dye, offers practical accounts of how they made the film so accurate. The best extra, though, is the "A Tour Of The Inferno" documentary which reveals how Stone and Dye took a bunch of young actors out to the Phillipines in the middle of the revolution and, through boot camp harshness and sleep deprivation, turned them into a fair xerox of a war-weary Vietnam platoon.
Winning a raft of awards, not least of which four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, Oliver Stone's Platoon was a box-office smash heralding Hollywood's second wave of Vietnam war films. Where predecessors The Deer Hunter (1978) and Apocalypse Now (1979) were elaborate epics, Platoon simply showed the daily reality of the war from the point of view of ordinary soldiers. Stone's own service in Vietnam gives his work a unique authenticity. Charlie Sheen gives his best performance to date, enduring a series of increasingly large-scale and bloody battles which retrospectively make one wonder why Saving Private Ryan was hailed as so new. Against this gruelling verity the film falters over the symbolic conflict between good and evil sergeants played by Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger. Even though this was also based in real life, it strikes a too conventionally Hollywood-like note in a film which otherwise maintains much of the raw power of Stone's other film from 1986, Salvador. Johnny Depp fans should look out for an early appearance by the star. Stone would return to Vietnam with the more sophisticated Born on the Fourth of July (1989) and Heaven and Earth (1993). On the DVD: The 50-minute documentary "Tour of the Inferno" goes beyond the usual "making-of" to present a personal account both of the film and of Stone's own time in Vietnam. Likewise the two audio commentaries--one by Stone, the other by Captain Dale Dye, fellow veteran and military technical advisor--range between the making of the film and the degree to which the actors came to inhabit their parts, to their own wartime experiences. Both commentaries bring a fresh level of appreciation and understanding to the film. Also included is the original trailer and three TV commercials, together with well-presented stills galleries of behind-the-scenes photos and poster art. Following a credit sequence marred by dirt on the print, the anamorphically enhanced 1.77:1 image is sharp and clear. The many night scenes are very dark but remain easily comprehensible. The three-channel Dolby Digital sound is suitably raw and powerful, though an early sequence featuring rain in the jungle suffers from very distracting repeated drop-outs in the left channel. --Gary S Dalkin