Another article mentioning Break

22 03 2008

Yesterday I found The American Film magazine in my closet, brought by my teacher from the USA in 1991. By accident it had a big pic of OS and article about The Doors. Thought I’d lost it. 🙂

Stone Unturned
by Mark Rowland

QUOTE: Shortly after his return from Vietnam, Stone wrote a first screenplay, Break, with themes and imagery inspired by the Doors — “just sort of a feeling that I thought they evoked.” The hero goes off to Vietnam, falls in with a jungle tribe, dies in the second act and journeys to the Egyptian underworld.* “I didn’t know how to write that much, but it’s really one of my favorite screenplays because it’s so raw and surreal. It was all about passion, unbordered by technique.”

Stone recalls an attempt to send the script to Morrison in Paris. (…) “I’m not a rocker, though I’d love to be”, he admits with a laugh. “With Jim [he means the movie I think], I’m swirling at the edge of a world I totally missed. But there was a lot of personalization. I’m a bit like an actor… with each film you feel another atmosphere around you in your daily life. And with Jim, I feel very warm, very comfortable.”

Two weeks before The Doors entered producktion, Stone was talking with Cheri Siddons, whose husband, Bill was once the Doors’ manager. At the end of their conversation, she dropped on Stones’d desk a copy of that long-ago script for Break. Bill Siddons had found it among effects in Morrison’s Paris Apartment, shortly after Morisson died.

“That was a nice sign,” stone says, still a little amazed by it. “Twenty years later… and it got there, to the man himself.” He smiles quizzically, “I wonder what he thought of it?”


* Egyptian underworld?!? Where the heck they found THAT? Is the author fantasizing (which wouldn’t be anything new) or is there another version of Break?

Cast & Crew: Biography of Keith David

21 03 2008

– He sang in a choir as a child.
– First TV appearance in “Roots: The Next Generations”

QUOTE: Within hours of graduating, he was rehearsing Joseph Papp’s Public Theater production of Coriolanus

Stange, Papp’s Public Theater appears again and again in the background of Stone-verse. First I’ve heard the name in the Tour of Inferno documentary, John McGinley mentions he was working in that theater as Platoon production started. Another involved actor was Eric Bogosian — they performed a stage version of Talk Radio before Stone made it into a film.

Take a Break: Assembled Thoughts About the Script

21 03 2008

Break online Wow! What a confusing piece of writing. Couldn’t find any kind of logical storyline, sometimes it reminds me of Child’s Night Dream (OS’s novel), but it’s much wilder. It felt Apocalypse Now-ish (especially the first scene of the early Apocalypse script), very The Doors-ish, maybe even a little NBK-ish. I had those flashes of familiar mood over and over again, some of it I even couldn’t define. The “story” is divided into three parts, and the middle part takes place in some not nearer described “woods”. We have a bunch of mercenaries, who get high on grass and music (Tracks of My Tears!) in a buddhist temple. Then, on a patrol, they meet a group of dionisian “nature-children” dancing in the forest. One of them joins the orgy, then it all gets out of control and ends with a bloody mess. The main character is photographing all the time, just like Stone while he was in Vietnam. We also have a direct quotation from Child’s Night Dream:

I was conceived by my father, born of my mother, suffered under both, was crucified for this (pointing at papers), died and soundly buried but the third day I rose again from Hell, and ascended unto Heaven where I sit on the right hand of God The Father Fiction, from whence I shall come to judge . . . all painters, all poets, all creators . . . you . . . amen

Soon we see some pretty known names: Lerner, Bunny, Francis (beautiful singing voice), Adams (from the script I think), King, Manny, Jeremiah “called Rhah”, Flash… King, “who is the biggest brother, very black, with big white cotton picker’s nails.” Stone casted a singer (Corey Glover) for the part of Francis. Was Francis singing in the first version of The Platoon?  Then, there is an Indian with the name Isaac, mysterious guy, a kind of shaman skilled in  taming and killing snakes.

Isaac, a moderately tall, slender, muscled Indian, with sharp attractive features, no beard whatever, his long black hair curling down over his forehead, could look like a little boy but he stands there away from the rest, sharpening his long glistening hunting knife. His chest is without hair and he wears a thin loose-fitting vest of black cloth hanging unbuttoned from his broad shoulders. (…)

On his bicep, ISAAC has a small graceful tatoo Born To Kill

Later, in the third part, there is someone looking like Isaac’s younger reincarnation, in the prison where the main character ends. They have something like a homo-erotic scene together. There is also sergeant Lee(!!)*, an excellent sniper, but actually a supporting character, almost an extra, he says no word in the whole story. The description leaves little space for speculations which Platoon character is based on him.

…carrying a map in his hand, a young sergeant. He is small with a heavily repaired face indicated by the seam of scar tissue running from his ear along his jaw to his chin.

There are little details jumping at you all over the place, beads, bandanas, bracelets, deers, girl-names game, Buddha figure, river, fat girl on a photo, Rhah’sbaaaaaaa (If you’re going to do it, do it right!), a snake slithering between legs, a scar under protagonist’s eye (we never know how it happened!) Rhah has a black skull and ivory white cross hang side by side around his neck.   In the description of a character named Flash I found:

“the two outside teeth have green rubies mounted on them, the inner two teeth have heart-shaped red diamonds mounted, so on the rare occasions that he smiles, his teeth glisten in red and green.”

Could it be a prototype of Manny?

Reading Break I had an impression of a time jump backwards, as if Break was what left after Platoon script got shredded in a mixer… What can I tell — it was one huge “what-the-hell?” experience. That night I went to bed long after midnight and laid awake stupidly grinning at the darknes. Now I REALLY want that early draft of “The Platoon”!

My impression is that in 1969 Stone tried to write Break as an abstract tale about his Vietnam experience and people he met, and then he came back to more accurate depicting of the real men. Isaac  turned into Elias, the almost-real person.

WWW findings

20 03 2008


OS met with his father during an R&R and the elder Stone tried to get his son out of combat action. He failed and in April 1968, Oliver was transferred to a reconnaissance platoon


Both Berenger and Dafoe turn in excellent performances, taking their characters beyond the symbolic archetypes established in Stone’s screenplay and turning them into fully embodied human beings who have each been damaged by war, but responded and evolved in vastly different ways. They effectively make up for some of the obviousness in Stone’s symbolism, which becomes a bit weighty at times.

The bookshelf: Oliver Stone by Chris Salewicz

19 03 2008

The book Oliver Stone, the Making of his Movies by Chris Salewicz came on Monday with the mail, after I’ve been waiting for it a whole month long. After few pages I had to put the book away and log into www, because I’d found a little remark I must have been overlooking for last 10 years. It was about OS’s early script.

QUOTE: Back in New York in 1968 he attempted to make some sense of his life by writing a screenplay. Break, a surreal semi-autobiographical telescoping of various of his experiences with his parents and in Vietnam contained the seeds of the Elias and Barnes characters in Platoon, and was set to the music of The Doors: Stone even tried to get the script to Jim Morrison whom he wanted to play the lead.

How could I read further after that!?!

It took surprisingly short time to get the manuscript here.

An observation from board

17 03 2008

On the Armchair General discussion board I found an interesting observation. I doubt it was given enough credit in all that moral discussion about Platoon:

Quote: Barnes shot Elias, but Sheen didn’t see him do it. So Sheen is assuming a lot to take justice into his own hands. Obviously we, the movie watchers, know what happened so we are comfortable passing sentence, but if we are to pretend the events are real then there were no eye witnesses.

It also means that in his speech in the Underworld Barnes actually admits he killed Elias. Just looking away under Chris’ gaze in the helicopter was more of a hint, and actually ALL what Chris had to accuse him, maybe beside the three shots he could have heard in the jungle.

Sidetracks: Seminar “America at War”

16 03 2008

English Seminar “America at War” at University of Heidelberg, Germany

It uses Platoon and Deer Hunter as sources. It’s interesting that most of the materials are written by women.

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