Platoon: A Film on the Vietnam War

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Rocio Rodriguez

Platoon: The Film on the Vietnam War
“Somebody once wrote: ‘Hell is the impossibility of reason.’ That’s what this place feels like. Hell” (Platoon). The controversial issues concerning Platoon were not on the film itself, but about how this film portrayed the war in Vietnam and the affects the war had on the soldiers morally, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Oliver Stone directed and wrote the screenplay, using his own experiences as a reference. Oliver Stone chose to enlist in the United States Army in 1967; he fought with the 2d platoon of Bravo Company and 3d Battalion. He was in combat duty for fifteen months before he was discharged in 1968 (Norman). Oliver Stone’s foundation of the film was the depiction of the terror that the Vietnam War caused, but some critics saw violence within the U.S. Army while others saw violence between the U.S. soldiers and the Vietnamese villagers, reviewers saw inhumane actions while others saw a necessity for the inhuman actions, and scholars saw fear within the soldiers while others saw fear in war itself. The analysis of this film depicts the vast differences and controversial issue of the sixties. Platoon is a film attributed to the Vietnam War, and is based on an infantry within the U.S. Army. The film begins with Chris Taylor, the protagonist played by Charlie Sheen, who is a young, naive, and wealthy college dropout who decides to enlist in the war and help his country like his father and grandfather before him. When he arrives in Vietnam he is the underdog to the grunts, he is nothing compared to the more experienced soldiers. The grunts “can take it, can take anything” because “they’re the bottom of the barrel” (Platoon). Chris Taylor’s first sight of Vietnam is a pile of body bags that take his place in the helicopter for the return trip. He enters an infantry division that has two different commanding officers; Staff Sergeant Robert Barnes, played by Tom Berenger, and Staff Sergeant Elias Grodin, played by William Dafoe. Barnes and Grodrin are two completely opposite characters. Sergeant Barnes is depicted as an evil character by his actions throughout the film. The scene where the 25th infantry enters a Vietnamese village after the death of one of their own, looking for the responsible Viet Cong. Barnes believes the village is aiding the Viet Cong soldiers after finding many military weapons. Barnes automatically shoots the old chief’s wife in the head, and holds the woman’s child at gunpoint threatening to shoot the child if the villagers do not reveal the whereabouts of the Viet Cong. This scene portrays Barnes as the evil and inhuman sergeant, who does not believe in right or wrong. Sergeant Elias Grodin, on the other hand, is the character that is portrayed as good. Grodrin cares for the rookies like Chris, when no one else does. Grodrin defends the rookies against the lieutenant when the lieutenant sends them into combat without any prior knowledge of Vietnam on their first day, he also informs Chris what he does and does not need to be carrying in his sack. Platoon had different receptions and many did not accept the film. This film has a short focus on a single infantry platoon fighting near the Cambodian border during 1967. Oliver Stone’s script was rejected when he first presented the screenplay of the film; it took him at least ten years before the Hemdale Film production company finally decided to fund his film. Platoon was both praised and criticized for the amount of violence and inhuman actions the film presented about the war. It revealed what soldiers were forced to do to survive in the corruption they were living in. Some saw it as Anti-American while others viewed it as Pro Vietnam (Loughran). This film had controversial issues before the release date.

Critics have opposing views on the violence that Oliver Stone’s film Platoon depicts. The different views between the critics are the violence between the men within the...
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