Platoon Review

19 07 2008

Platoon Review
by Adrian Garget

QUOTE: (…) the film succeeds in conveying a visceral sense of the chaos, clamour, and fear that characterises warfare, and provides an almost physical sense of the heat, rain, and dirt of the jungle. The perspective is powerfully realistic, a ground level, infantryman’s view of Vietnam – ‘a white infantry boy’s view of the war’, as Stone acknowledges. (…)

The character of Chris Taylor is so interwoven with Oliver Stone’s real-life experiences, that Sheen’s performance provided something of an inner revelation: ‘Through Charlie, I saw myself as a young man’, Stone comments in his notes. ‘And I could step back without any self-consciousness and see myself for the first time through that mirror of time. And it was sad. To see what I’d become in Vietnam through him. (…)

Caught between Dafoe’s philosophical Elias and Berenger’s ruthless Barnes is Sheen’s Chris, both Everyman and Stone’s alter ego, whose purity of soul becomes the stake in an allegorical battle of good and evil. As the film develops in almost Shakespearean fashion, Chris hangs suspended between these two factions with his life and ideals in the balance. With Platoon Stone brought the portrayal of the Vietnam War to terrifyingly real new levels. By plunging the viewer into this madness the film captures the fear, disorientation, and crazed high of battle (…)

‘I tried to convey the way I felt in ‘Nam’, Stone explains. ‘The fear I felt in the jungles for the first time. I was a kid from New York and it was suddenly like everything I’d read in Homer was coming true. I was with real warriors. To me, Barnes and Elias were like Achilles and Hector, and I was with them in another world. Most of all I wanted to convey to him how my sense of innocence changed over time. For me, that’s the key to the movie.’


From the reader’s comments:

QUOTE by JimBob: I disagree with classifying this as an anti-war movie. It’s intentionally very ambigous in it’s portrayal of the war. It passes few judgements on the people themselves. It is often depicted as simply a battle between good (sergeant elias) and evil (sergeant barnes), but that is quite a simple perception. We can understand why Barnes is like he is; we see his anguish at the death of his troops in several scenes and understand the powerlessness and consequent rage he feels at the unscene enemy he cant revenge himself upon (taking it out instead on the mental enemy he sees in the Vietnamese villagers) and although we dont condone what he does we should understand it, and in so doing understand that there is nothing as simple as good and evil. Life is just not like that.


A Little detail caught my attention in the review itself: 

Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe) is a survivor with a sleepy grin who wears two dice and a crucifix around his neck.

Is there a significance to dice and crucifix worn together? An allusion to Einstein’s “God does not play dice” or what?  

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