More Break

2 08 2008

I feel like suddenly¬†Break references surfaced from some hidden dimension, all at once. I know, I know, it’s most probably because the name had no meaning for me before, and I plain and simply overlooked it. And I have a master degree in overlooking things, I can tell you… ūüôā

from Wikipedia

QUOTE: After his tour of duty in Vietnam ended in 1968, Stone wrote a screenplay called Break: a semi-autobiographical account detailing his experiences with his parents and his time in Vietnam. It featured several characters who were the seeds of those who would end up in Platoon. The script was set to music from The Doors; Stone sent the script to Jim Morrison in the hope he would play the lead (Morrison never responded). Though Break went ultimately unproduced, it was the spur for him to attend film school.

After penning several other produced screenplays in the early 1970s, Stone came to work with Robert Bolt on an unproduced screenplay, The Cover-up. Bolt’s rigorous approach rubbed off on Stone, and he was inspired to use the characters from his Break screenplay (who in turn were based upon people Stone knew in Vietnam) as the basis for a new screenplay titled The Platoon. Producer Martin Bregman attempted to elicit studio interest in the project, but Hollywood was still apathetic about Vietnam. However, the strength of Stone’s writing on The Platoon was enough to get him the job penning Midnight Express in 1978. (…)

After the release of The Deer Hunter (1978 ) and Apocalypse Now (1979 ), they then cited the perception that these films were considered the pinnacle of the Vietnam War film genre as reasons not to make The Platoon.

Stone instead attempted to break into mainstream direction via the easier-to-finance horror genre, but The Hand (1981) failed at the box office, and Stone began to think that The Platoon would never be made. Stone wrote Year of the Dragon (1985) for a lower-than-usual fee of $200,000, on the condition from producer Dino de Laurentiis that he would then produce The Platoon. De Laurentiis secured financing for the film, but struggled to find a distributor. Because de Laurentiis had already spent money sending Stone to the Philippines to scout for locations, he decided to keep control of the film’s script until he was repaid. Then Stone’s script for what would become Salvador (1986) was passed to John Daly of British production company Hemdale. Once again, this was a project that Stone had struggled to secure financing for, but Daly loved the script and was prepared to finance both Salvador and The Platoon off the back of it. Stone shot Salvador first, before turning his attention to what was by now called Platoon.

Stone: “Vietnam was really visceral, and I had come from a cerebral existence: study… working with a pen and paper, with ideas. I came back really visceral. And I think the camera is so much more… that’s your interpreter, as opposed to a pen.”
Oliver Stone’s return from active duty in Vietnam resulted in a “big change” in how he viewed life and the war. Unproduced screenplay
Break was the result, and it eventually provided the basis for Platoon.

Sidetracks: Spalding Gray

2 08 2008

The name Spalding Gray always existed in the background, I don’t even remember when or where I’ve heard it for the first time, but it was surely connected to his performance piece “Swimming to Cambodia”, which by it’s title alone must have triggered my interest.¬†

Lately his name surfaced again as I found a series of photographs of members of the Performance Garage here. But, well, I cannot research on everything at the same time so I haven’t look up… until today

From Wikipedia

QUOTE: Gray first achieved national prominence with his film Swimming to Cambodia, a filmed version of one of his monologues. He based the monologue on his experiences in Southeast Asia while filming a small part in the 1984 movie The Killing Fields.

Gray was a founding member of the experimental theater company The Wooster Group (it is also where Willem Dafoe works between his movies)

The funny detail: Killing Fields was shown in TV yesterday. ūüôā


from Ghosts in the Text: Thirty Years and More of The Wooster Group
October 2007

(…)¬†Then individual members of the troupe began to experience the beginnings of their own break-out careers: in fact, at the same time that I saw¬†L.S.D., Gray was breaking in his monologue¬†Swimming to Cambodia, the 1987 film of which would make him a near-household name; in 1986 Dafoe would be nominated for an Oscar for his performance in Oliver Stone’s¬†Platoon.¬†

ARCHIVE FILES: Barnes‚Äô and Elias‚Äô past in the AirCav

2 08 2008

This idea started from a discussion I’ve had about the movie back in 1988. It came from the observation that the animosity between Barnes and Elias seems to come from something beyond the movie. One can sense it already in the scene when Barnes assigns Elias squad for the night ambush, later Elias accuses Barnes for causing Gardner’s death. It seems they hate each other, the village accident just brings it clearly to the surface.¬†

It was quite late at night, a time when people tend to have strange ideas, I think it was my friend who called the situation “your-enemy-was-your-friend relationship”, and we ended up musing about the possibility that Barnes and Elias were friends once, long ago before the movie starts, maybe in another unit.

Both were long enough in Vietnam to “grow” such relationship, alone from their different views on how the war should be led, or from some dramatic accident that turned them into adversaries.

It was just a feeling, a pure “mind burp” belonging rather to the fan fiction than movie theory. Until I’ve laid my hands on¬†Dale Dye’s novelisation of the script and the script itself.

In the movie Elias mentions a place called Ia Drang. A place where an infamous battle took place, and 1st AirCav took heavy casualties. Elias seems to refer to this event, but… he¬†says “it happened in 1966”, while the actual battle took place in 1965. It doesn’t look like a goof to me, it’s in the script and in Dye’s book too. But no matter what Elias is talking about, he¬†has to know because he was in the AirCav before, which is indicated by the patch he’s wearing on his right sleeve.

In the book, and in the script the place appears again, this time in a reference to Barnes: Rhah says: “Barnes took a bullet right there. At Ia Drang Valley…”

I know, it is not much, and doesn’t support in any way the “friendship theory” but it somehow hints a common past. Vietnam is a big country, why the same spot should appear in both sergeants’ history?

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