Wilfred Owens Poetry vs Platoon

Topics: Vietnam War, Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, Dulce et Decorum Est Pages: 5 (1603 words) Published: October 8, 1999
1. Within each text the setting plays an important part. How do both Stone and Owen convey the setting and the conditions the men faced? (Don't forget you must refer to specific lines and poetic/film, techniques)

Naturally it is a lot easier to convey the desired setting of a scene if the medium used involved visual concepts. However, Wilfred Owens poetry manages to give the reader an extremely vivid idea of what the conditions were like for the people whom he describes. Like Oliver Stone, in his movie Platoon, Owen uses some very simple concepts to set the scene in his writing, such as mud, or loud noises, which convey not only the setting, but also the mood that goes with it. For example, in the poem Duce et Decorum Est, in the lines

"Gas! Gas! Quick. Boys! –An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets on just in time"

This excerpt not only give the reader a clear idea of what is physically happening in the trenches, but the language used and in particular, the incoherent shouting in the first line also implies the confusion of the situation, as if the author can recall no more than a blur of it.

Oliver Stone also uses techniques to imply confusion, such as when the platoon are attacked in the jungle scenes; the camera frequently changes perspective (from long-shots to close-ups) as well as focus, and is often jolting suddenly as if it is from the perspective of one of the soldiers running.

The movie Platoon also uses light against darkness to represent good and evil, or even at time to imply the emotion and fear which the characters are feeling. For example, the eerie, blue light, which is noticeable in the jungle scene, gives the scene an air of unfamiliarity, which is also reflected on the emotions of the characters' faces.

Despite these good points, it is clear that Platoon does not have the realistic scenarios that Wilfred Owen brings forth in his poetry. This is probably because Owen's work was written while he was actually fighting in the First World War, and his poems often seem as if they are recollections of the actual events. Oliver Stone on the other hand has served very little time, if any at all, and the movie is no more than a chimerical expression of his feelings toward the American attitude of the Vietnam War.

One parallel between the graphic scenes of Platoon and the poetic description shown in Wilfred Owens work can be seen in the constant battle against the natural elements that is shown in both examples. For example in Platoon, the men find themselves being stalked by the enemy in a maze like jungle, in humid conditions which would be totally unfamiliar to the American soldiers. Similarly, the men in poems such as The Sentry base their warfare in the wet and muddy trenches of France, which multiplies the difficulty of fighting. Although these two scenarios are somewhat different, they do show similarities in that the men are in a constant battle, not only against the legitimate enemy, but also against the forces of nature.

2. How do both men make use of symbolism and imagery to convey their ideas about war? Symbolism is a very powerful tool to use when trying to influence and captivate an audience. It is a technique that is employed in nearly all types of media and is particularly noticeable as well as affective in descriptive works. Due to the fact that Platoon is directed at a more general audience, the symbolism and imagery examples are a lot less subtle than that which is shown in the powerful poetry of Wilfred Owen, which was created to educate people, and not to sell at the box office.

Owens symbolism is often so delicate that the reader may not always consciously recognise it, yet it helps to immensely in creating the atmosphere of the poem. For example in the poem Futility, the sun seems to represent life, and in The Sentry, light is used as an assimilation to hope, which...
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