Another Load of Reviews

26 07 2008

‘Platoon’ Grapples With Vietnam
 by Michael Norman

QUOTE: As a story, a narrative, ”Platoon” borrows from the long tradition of war literature. Here is the classic warrior myth, the innocent who goes off to battle and comes back with what he believes is the wisdom of the ages. Here is war corrupting those who take part in it. Here is the survivor as hero. And, finally, here is the awful result of technology turned to destruction. The same story has been told in different eras by Stephen Crane and Erich Maria Remarque and Norman Mailer.

Mr. Stone was born in France and raised in New York City. In 1965, he dropped out of Yale during his freshman year and, filled with the words of Joseph Conrad, set out for the Orient and adventure. He paid his way to Saigon and took a job in the city’s Chinese district teaching school at the Free Pacific Institute. ”I was 18,” he said. ”My father treated me like a child and I wanted to prove I was a man.”
Six months later he took a job in the engine room of a merchant ship run, he said, ”by characters right out of the 19th century – the fat captain, the soldier who worked for the C.I.A., the strong bull of an engineer.” He switched ships, sailed through a hurricane to home and in 1966 took up temporary residence in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he began a 1,400-page autobiographical novel called ”Child’s Night Dream.” A few months later, he returned to Yale, but not to class. He kept writing his novel and flunking his courses. In 1967, he tried to get his work published and was rejected.(…)

(…)what seems to be missing from Mr. Stone’s film, perhaps what he never came to know – [is] the passion of comradeship.
There is little kinship for the men of ”Platoon.” They may serve together, but there is no sense of self-sacrifice among them, no loyalty and no love. It is thus not surprising that many of Mr. Stone’s characters come across as coldblooded killers. ”Comradeship among killers is terribly difficult,” wrote Mr. Gray. And it is on this point, found so often in the art and memoirs of war, that a great many men will break with Mr. Stone and find his film lacking.

…and I have to agree with it to a certain extend. There is a kind of friendship among the Heads, and certainly a friendship between Chris and King, but compared with Hamburger Hill there is not much of brotherhood-in-arms in the movie.


 ‘Platoon’ Finds New Life in the Old War Movie
 by Vincent Canby, January 11, 1986

QUOTE: ‘I kept thinking about all the kids who got wiped out by 17 years of war movies before coming to Vietnam to get wiped out for good,” Michael Herr remembers in ”Dispatches,” his book of Vietnam memoirs published in 1977.

”Most combat troops,” he goes on, ”stopped thinking of the war as an adventure after their first few firefights, but there were always the ones who couldn’t let that go. . . A lot of correspondents weren’t much better. We’d all seen too many movies, stayed too long in Television City, years of media glut had made certain connections difficult.

”. . . even after you knew better you couldn’t avoid the ways in which things got mixed, the war itself with those parts of the war that were just like the movies, just like ‘The Quiet American’ or ‘Catch-22’. . . just like all that combat footage from television. . .”

(…)Whether the images are 30 feet tall or three inches, movies and television work on us in similar ways. The images are drugs whose side effects aren’t immediately recognized. They do inform us, but with whatever ”truth” they hold to be self-evident, which may be Rambo’s or Walter Cronkite’s.

(…)Movies and television can make the wildest fiction look like fact, and lethal facts look as harmless as fiction. Even at their most reasonable, movies and television must distort their subjects to the extent that they find esthetic order in chaos, conferring on events a romantic vision or, at least, a comprehensible overview. They put at a safe distance those unmentionable, unrecognized things that otherwise are allowed to enter our minds only as nightmares.

(…) It’s something of a circle. As the film maker’s imagination shapes his movies, those movies shape our imaginations. Thus, as Mr. Herr writes, the war itself gets mixed with those parts of the war that are just like the movies.

(…) ‘Platoon” finds in the experiences of the members of a single platoon of soldiers some equivalent to just about every horror story we’ve ever read about Vietnam, including the My Lai massacre. This is the license that can be granted to a film that – until its final few minutes – so rigorously keeps its eye at ground level.



Unwanted ‘Platoon’ Finds Success as U.S. Examines the Vietnam War
by Alejan Harmetz, Feb. 1987

QUOTE: ”If ‘Platoon’ had been released 10 years ago, people would have said, ‘Don’t remind us of our mistake,’ ” said the president of marketing and distribution at Lorimar, Ashley Boone. ”The same thing would have happened if ‘Gandhi’ had been made seven or eight years after Gandhi died. No one would have watched the movie or cared. A lot of things with a historical background are too painful to address when they’re fresh.”

‘Occasionally in this business you feel you’ve got something very important,” said Orion’s executive vice president of marketing, Charles Glenn, in explanation. The movie was originally sold as Oliver Stone’s story, with what the industry calls ”reader ads,” advertisments with a large block of copy. There were three or four Polaroid snapshots of Mr. Stone in uniform. The copy told of his being wounded twice and winning a Bronze Star, and of his making a movie about ”men he knew and fought with in the country they could not win.”

”The ads legitimized the picture,” Mr. Glenn said. They made it the equivalent of many of the Vietnam War books that had suddenly begun to sell so well, the real story of the common soldier. And discussion of the movie began to appear on editorial pages of newspapers and on television news programs.


A whole gallery of posters plus some known pictures — at least they have decent scanns to pick 🙂

Platoon: 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition
by Judge Ryan Keefer // June 5th, 2006

QUOTE: In their quest to get things done right, the soldiers in Platoon are clearly not your father’s war film soldiers. They drink, they smoke, and they do things that normal people would find repulsive, so that they could find relief from the stress and hell of jungle combat. And the wealth of recognizable talent provides some faces that you would know well. And when some of those faces disappear, as part of a then-rapidly growing butcher’s bill of war casualties, the viewer has a vested interest. Those losses are magnified even further with how Stone presents each soldier, from downtime to rock and roll. The platoon’s losses are our losses.

Platoon: Ultimate Edition – DVD Review

Tom Berenger, who had taken on the sense of responsibility – though not ruthless brutality – of his character Sergeant Barnes, lined up his ‘troops’ to tell them he felt, “This could be one of the great movies. It’s unfortunate if it’s too early in your life, because there’s never anywhere else to go.” A point his subsequent career proves…

sadly so…

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