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1980s, Combat - Vietnam

Platoon (1986)

Platoon

Duration 1h 25m Rating (UK) 12A
Source of story Loosely based on the director’s own experience as a soldier in the Vietnam war.
Director Oliver Stone
Writers/Script Oliver Stone
Starring Forest Whitaker, Johnny Depp, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen,

Elevator Pitch: Chris, a volunteer soldier is assigned to a temporary encampment close to the Cambodian border. There is tension in the platoon, since the officer in charge is ineffective and the men are separated by allegiance to either the bullying Sgt Barnes of the more charismatic Sgt Elias. As the force fight, mostly ineffectively, against the Vietcong their numbers are reduced and when they come close to massacring the inhabitants of an entire village their faith in themselves and the conflict come into question.

Content: There is a lot of smoking of marijuana and some beer drinking. The platoon spend most on their time, outside in the rain in holes in the ground. They have battles with a shadowy enemy in the dark and murder some villagers who might have been harbouring the enemy. There are a number of explosions as their officer accidentally calls down artillery fire on their actual position, and constant tension as the size of the force deployed against them gets larger, and the agro between Barnes and Elias comes to a head.

A View: This film was given four or five stars by the critics won four Oscars and won Best Picture at the Golden Globes, in 1987. It is No 209 on IMDb Top Rated Movies, and even today it is a dramatic, and difficult film to watch. I am not generally keen on films where there is a lot of shouting or where we have to strain our eyes due to darkness, and maybe my worst moment was when the Vietnamese villagers were being shouted at. I was really relieved when one of the guys could speak to them in their own language. So I did not like it, preferring less realistic stuff, but it may be essential viewing for movie buffs or those with an interest in the Vietnam War.

Additional info: As has become common these days, the actors were sent on a one month boot camp before the filming started, to acclimatise them to the rigours of warfare and to get them to bond as a group

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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