History in Platoon: Another Report about Firebase Burt

27 05 2008

Peter Holt’s’Platoon’

QUOTE: Those of you who have seen the movie “Platoon” might remember the big jungle battle that closes the film.

If you thought it was a Hollywood concoction divorced from real life, you’d be wrong.

The movie’s director, Oliver Stone, was a young soldier with the Army’s 25th Infantry Division at Firebase Burt on the Cambodian border when what seemed like the entire North Vietnamese army overran the post.

Peter Holt, who later would become chairman and CEO of the San Antonio Spurs, was there, too.

“They were all around you, so there wasn’t anything to do but fight all around you. Yeah, it was scary. Lit up like a Christmas tree. I remember they had that big, whatever that was circling around, dropping those flares, so that place was eerily lit up. I thought (Stone) got it pretty right.”

The Real Platoon(9): Who the… is Elias Grodin?

25 05 2008

Talking about reliable sources and legends…

The “fact” that the character’s name in the movie was Elias Grodin has now became so popular that it is mentioned in almost every newer review of Platoon, also written by professional journalists.

I strongly believe that the source of this “information” is the Platoon poster with dog tags showing the name. Like this one (click for bigger picture):

I could swear the whole name hoax started few years ago, maybe with the market launch of the PC Game. The name on other (older?) posters is unreadable.

But those dog tags also say USMC, also Marines, even though the caption at the beginning of the movie and the “Electric Strawberry” patches worn by the solders clearly identify the unit as 25th Infantry Division.

Knowing a little bit about the editing process I assume that the poster designer just invented the name. Back in 1987 it was surely damn hard to do any background research, nor there was any time for this. If it happened later, the designer simply haven’t done the homework.

Once someone had the idea to decipher the name and posted it somewhere in the net, the name started to spread like an information-weed, or a virus. There is no way to stop it. Which is also a good example and warning for taking ANY information in the WWW for granted.

I only wonder what OS thinks about it. And if he noticed it at all.

The real Platoon(8): Ritual in the Films of Willem Dafoe

25 05 2008


Quote: The dope-smoking, swearing Sergeant Elias of Platoon (1986), based on an actual man of the same name whom Oliver Stone had met during the Vietnam War and come to regard as a mythical figure, is a symbol for the conflicting views on the war that divided Americans. In the screenplay Stone provides Elias with the natural sense of grace, the charismatic power and the dignity of a heathen god at one with his surroundings.* Rejecting human-made moral principles, Elias aligns himself with the natural elements: The stars … there’s no right or wrong in them, they’re just there. And yet the character Elias is complex enough also to symbolise hope and the search for truth and meaning in life as expressed in his spiritual bond with Stone’s fictitious counterpart, the narrator Chris. Elias’ death is ambiguous in various ways, not least because of the stylised pose of his body as he seems to be coming after the rescuing helicopter. Kneeling and arms raised in the air while he is shot at from behind, the gesture could be one of supplication or of resignation.

* I wonder if the author has an idea how much “mythical” Elias was in Break. But caution is needed by creating a picture of the real person based on those very sparse information. Since the information about Juan Elias started to spread I can see a tendency to take those hints for granted facts.

Sidetracks: Elias in Mormon Tradition

24 05 2008

From http://scriptures.lds.org/bd/e/30

In Mormon tradition Elias is also a title:

QUOTE: Elias is also a title for one, who is a forerunner, for example, John the Baptist,

These passages are sufficiently clarified to show that anciently two Eliases were spoken of, one as a preparer and the other a restorer. John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, Jesus himself being the Restorer who brought back the gospel

The title Elias has also been applied to many others for specific missions or restorative functions that they are to fulfill

Thus the word Elias has many applications and has been placed upon many persons as a title pertaining to both preparatory and restorative functions.

Not that it has much to do with the movie…

An Essay: Invisible Enemies: The American War On Vietnam

24 05 2008

This is interesting…

From https://drum.umd.edu/dspace/bitstream/1903/1669/1/umi-umd-1606.pdf

QUOTE: Again, we can see the pervasive effects of the Platoon syndrome in American society. In the space of little more than a decade, Vietnam had gone from something we did to the Vietnamese to something Vietnam did to us, to, finally, something we did to ourselves. By the end of the 1980s, the Vietnamese astonishingly had ceased even to be a required component of the matrix of representations for the American War in Vietnam.

Critics and audiences alike praised this third wave, defined by Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986), for its realism. While undoubtedly more realistic than Rambo, The Deer Hunter, or Apocalypse Now, Platoon in particular was surrounded by a discourse of reality that moved beyond the conventions of American films about the war. The cultural transition in the United States from Rambo to Platoon, which took place largely during the years 1985-1988, sparked a larger debate in American culture about the history of the American war in Vietnam. Against Rambo’s 259 revisionism, Platoon’s reality, redrew the discursive boundaries about the cultural memory of the war by focusing attention entirely on what Vietnam did to the United States.

Zurich Festival Tribute to OS

22 05 2008


An analysis from GUIDE TO WAR FILMS

21 05 2008

Exactly 20 years ago I have seen Platoon for the first time. And the worm has definitely turned for me, lol.


QUOTE: OS: It was from these roots that the essential conflict between Elias and Barnes grew in my mind. Two gods. Two different views of the war. The angry Achilles versus the conscience-stricken Hector fighting for a lost cause on the dusty plains of Troy. It mirrored the very civil war that I’d witnessed in all the units I was in – on the one hand, the lifers, the juicers [those who drank alcohol], and the moron white element (part Southern, part rural) against, on the other, the hippie, dope smoking, black and progressive white element (although there were exceptions in all categories, and some lifers did more dope than I ever dreamed). Right versus Left. And I would act as Ishmael, the observer, caught between those two giant forces. At first a watcher. Then forced to act – to take responsability and a moral stand. And in the process to grow to a manhood I’d never dreamed I’d have to grow to. To a place where in order to go on existing I’d have to shed the innocence and accept the evil the Homeric gods had thrown out into the world. To be both good and evil. To move from this East Coast social product to a more visceral manhood, where I finally felt the war not only in my head, but in my gut and soul.

The Christian symbolism and many biblical references.
Film begins with ironic quote from Ecclesiastes: “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth.” See also 4. 1-3; 9.3; 9.11; 12.1, 12.13-14. “For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecc. 12. 14. Elias has biblical sounding name – Elijah, Isaiah. Christ figure – manner of his death with outstretched arms like crucifiction (E “falls to his knees, still stretching upwards for life” and explicitly OS says “Elias crucified”

Isaiah??? Why is the author mentioning Isaiah? It of course made me think of Break, but it turned out that Isaiah, and Isaac are two different biblical figures.

BTW, the Illias reference is not only the two war gods Hector and Achilles but also the senseless background of the war, at least as shown in “Troy”.

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