Discovery Channel Documentary

10 04 2013

The True Story – Platoon

Well, something really new. The film brings some facts together, Stone’s career in Vietnam, and also the background information like the battle of Firebase Burt.

For me the most “important” statement of the movie is that Stone never revealed the identity of the Barnes prototype. But there is more about Juan Elias, interviews and a never before seen photo of Young Stone from his time in the Air Cavalry.

Video on YouTube

Video on Smithsonian Channel

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Foreword to Platoon Script by Oliver Stone

28 08 2008

So I bought the book edition of Platoon’s and Salvador’s scripts for a good price, the first edition costs up to $100. ūüėĮ

The book looks slightly used and someone obviously worked with the Platoon script, comparing it to the movie, as the scenes are numbered and changes marked. There are also one or two small notes scribbled on the pages, but I haven’t deciphered them yet.¬†

I think I somehow hoped to find the initial version of the script, but it’s still the same version as the one that can be found online. Some new information can be found in the foreword written by Stone.

——————————

SCAN 1   SCAN 2   SCAN 3   SCAN 4

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Still there was nothing about Break, or THE Platoon, or the development of the script as I hoped. ūüė¶ Nor any details about the first run of scouting and casting…¬†But there is more about the real sergeants than I expected.

Some of the lines were quoted in different reviews, now I can read them inside the right context, and from OS himself, so indeed I saw what Barnes was meant to be — a wounded human being, not a “cardboard satan” as many saw him.¬†

Tom Berenger is Sergeant Barnes, the Captain Ahab of the platoon. (…)¬†Here I want him to play someone with evil in his heart, but play him with an understanding that will shed light on Melville’s line, ‘O this lovely light that shineth not on me‚Ķ’ (read the whole piece) and from watching his coiled performance, I think many people at the end of the film will think he has been wronged by Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, and destiny.

This sadly didn’t come true, maybe it’s some flaw to the story that makes it visible only to few viewers as it seems. Or maybe it is hard to accept the humanity of the ultimate means, the humanity within a murderer… ¬†

Sergeant Barnes was (…) Achilles, a warrior king in his own time. And I – this modern New York City boy who’d never really believed all that Homer stuff in school – was actually hauling his radio, the equivalent, I suppose, of driving his chariot. (…)

He never yelled at me but his cold, quiet stare withered and terrified me as no man has ever done since. He was the best soldier I ever saw, except, possibly, for Elias. One day he snuck up on two ‘gooks’ having breakfast and killed them, quick, before the fish heads hit their lips: they died surprised. But, unlike Elias, there was a sickness in him, he wanted to kill too much.¬†(…)

The gooks had shot him right above his left eye in ’66, and the bullet somehow lodged in there and he spent a year in a hospital in Japan. The resulting scar ran the whole left side of his face in a large, sickle-shaped pattern, layered with grafted skin from the indentation above his eye to his lower jaw. It was a massive job, indicative of equally massive damage to the nerves and possibly the brain.¬†

Does it mean they ruined Barnes’ face in the hospital trying to extract the bullet? Jesus….
But why the grafted skin then? And I wonder why they decided to change the side in the movie, in script the scar is still on the left. Then there is that discrepance between the book and the script: in the book it was 1964 (which actually must have been a goof as the war hadn’t really started until 1965)

I like the way the tidbits appear “out of nowhere” once we’ve had discussed them. Like the possible Barnes’ brain damage, that stayed below my radar for 20 years, until recently.

When Barnes looked you in the eye, you felt it all the way down to your balls. But there was a tenderness and sensuality in the man’s quietude that made him fascinating, equally handsome in a snub-nosed way as Elias, and I found out in time he was married to a Japanese girl he’d met in the hospital. He’d been wounded some six or seven times, though he never talked about it, or the woman, or himself. He’d get drunk at poker and occasionally crack a country smile, but never let you in. The only vulnerability in the man was the scar, and such a massive thing it was that it provoked the deepest empathy.¬†

It sounds so much like the quotation from Moby Dick posted yesterday, doesn’t it? “And somehow, at the time, I felt a sympathy and a sorrow for him, but for I don‚Äôt know what(…)”

About Elias

The real Elias was about twenty-three In 1968 when I met him during a brief stint in the First Cavalry’s Long Range Reconnaissance patrol (…) Dashingly handsome, with thick black hair, a flashing white smile, and Apache blood, Elias was everything we were later going to recognize in Jim Morrison and Joplin and Hendrix, he was a rock star but played it out as a soldier; real danger turned him on. Everybody seemed to love him except the ‘lifers’ and the juicers, with their six and seven stripes(…)

I heard Elias died on some hill in the Ashau when one of our grenades went off and killed him. It was unlike Elias; he was too smart to get wasted like that, yet how symbolic of this frustrating war – many of our best troops killed by our own side in accidents. There was even the whispered thought that Elias had been done in by one of our lifers.

Stone uses the names Barnes and Elias, not the Barnes/Elias character as he often does in the commentary — does this indicate Barnes was the man’s real name?

There is also a nice piece about Charlie Sheen, unluckily Stone’s prediction about him becoming a big star didn’t really came true.

[Sheen] arrived a bit of a nerd from the teen films he’d done – Malibu in his soul, hot wings at Hamburger Hamlet, tightly cut hair, with a hundred pounds of provisions his mother sent that he would never use. Over the weeks, he’s become tougher, sharper, a jungle vet who can hump sixty pounds and walk right up on a deer in the bush without being heard. The changes exactly mirror those in his character in the script

An interesting behind-the-scenes tidbit: they actually built the church ruins, which later were used for For the Boys in 1990 or 1991, so it was a solid construction. And I wonder if Stone, more or less consciously copies the church from Apocalypse Now from the scene where Willard meets Kilgore for the first time.

The other thing we’ve discussed already is that the movie is a result of…

…just plain luck and the coming together of so many live elements in the proper framework.

There are some words about editing that I liked:

Editing always seems to me like a calculated rout from my grand plan of attack, but in the end the essence seems to survive in a reduced form, like amoebae in a dish ready to grow again with the audience.

And those lines that are filled with a certain sadness about the impossibility of putting the vision on screen completely.

I know that although I finished the film, a part of it will never be there, any more than the faces of the gawky boys we left behind in the dust. As close as I came to Charlie Sheen, he would never be me and Platoon would never be what I saw in my mind when I wrote it and which was just a fragment, really, of what happened years ago.

I wonder how Platoon would look like if Stone had more time and money, how his vision actually looked like. Reading the script now one automatically see the movie and the actors… Although since reading Break, I started to see Elias in a different light, as if the image of a¬†rebellious¬†Indian kid blended into the final form of Dafoe’s performance.





Philippine Film Studio

26 07 2008

From Who is Jun Juban and why does Oliver Stone trust him?

QUOTE: Juban got his big break in ‚ÄúPlatoon.‚ÄĚ Stone, who had heard about Juban,¬†introduced himself. Since ‚ÄúPlatoon‚ÄĚ had a previous commitment with another local¬†producer, Juban told Stone to settle things before they did business.

‚ÄúPlatoon‚ÄĚ was filmed in Cavite while People Power, the four-day bloodless¬†revolt against the Marcos regime, was going on at Edsa. Amid the Edsa revolt, Juban had provide the movie production military requirement such as chopper. Even if Juban got the permit from Gen. Fabian Ver, who had by then left the country, then Gen. Fidel Ramos still honored it and supported the production all the way. The filming finished in eight weeks and stayed within budget.
When the film was ready, Stone sent a poster and wrote a dedication: “To Jun,
who made the impossible happen.‚ÄĚ

Philipine Film Studio’s Homepage





Looking for The Cover-up

24 07 2008

Trying out what I find if I try to search for The Cover-up, the other unproduced early script of OS

From OS Message Board
A Writer’s Journey (Part One)

QUOTE: I had written a novel when I was 18 or 19 years old. It was a very long, kind of James Joyceian approach — epic language, poetic language. It wasn’t published, and I moved on into Vietnam. I went to Vietnam as a soldier to forget about writing. To never write again. Because writing is very cerebral. In Vietnam I made a couple of notes, but they got so wet in the field that I gave up the idea of paper and pen and went back to a certain anonymity. I think writing those kind of materials brings a lot of attention to yourself. I felt very self-absorbed, and I was trying to get away from that.

Later in my tour I bought a camera and started to take more pictures. A thousand pictures of a beautiful country — yellows and greens — absolutely incredible color.

And a follow-up:

QUOTE: But I continued writing two scripts a year. I probably did eleven or twelve scripts in there, plus many treatments. I sent them around. No agents would read them(….) I ended up at a sports film company for a while. I was miserable, but at least it was putting some bread on the table. Two screenplays a year, every year. Churning them out.

My big break came when Robert Bolt (Lawrence of Arabia, A Man for All Seasons) and his partner read one of my scripts and liked it a lot. It was based on the Patty Hearst kidnapping and called The Cover-Up. It was an early form of JFK — it had a conspiracy- type theme because, in fact, some of the people involved in that kidnapping had records as police agents. Bolt loved it and brought me out to LA, one of my first big trips here. He treated me like a king. A very genial man. He had just finished The Mission*, which I read then — a wonderful screenplay.

A Follow-up¬†for A Writer’s Journey (Part Two)

QUOTE: Unfortunately, Dino De Laurentiis welshed the deal. He didn’t come through with his end and he even tried to keep the screenplay. I had to sue him, threaten to sue him actually, to get my script back and for him to absorb all the casting and scouting costs in the Philippines, which he did. But I had cast the whole movie. I had scouted it. I had everything picked out. It was another heartbreaker — you cannot have your heart broken so many times without getting either you give up or you become very cynical.

 

Uh-huh, we have the name Robert Bolt again, also the story about “scouting and casting” Platoon in the Philippines for De Laurentiis… interesting.

* By accident The Mission was Platoon’s¬†competitor for Oscar race in 1987





Cast & Crew: Tom Berenger Interview

10 06 2008

The Good Fight
By Betsy Model, September 27, 2007

from Cigar Aficionado
It seems that non film magazines make interviews with actors differently, and sometimes better. They seem to have broader perspective than the usual movie talk. And women write different than men, that’s for sure.

Quote: There may be all of those characters in the impatience Berenger can exhibit when discussing Hollywood, but the one you listen for — the one you half fear and half desire — is Sergeant Barnes from Platoon.

Berenger himself was certain he could bring Barnes to life on the screen, but there were some initial doubts by others.

Berenger managed on screen to define the notion of walking wounded, the kind of dull and incessant emotional pain that renders a man inhuman, to an extraordinary and chilling degree.

“I remember reading the script and thinking ‘whoa,'” says Berenger, “and I never doubted I could do it. I had a handle on it. I knew that Oliver had doubts and I knew that Dale [Dye] had doubts, but I knew exactly what I wanted to do with [the role]. I could see them being worried, but I wasn’t.”

“Early on, when I first started in the movie business,” says Dye. “I barely knew one actor from another and certainly had no clue about things like heart, emotion, insight and talent that an actor needs to bring a role to life. So in my infinite wisdom at the time, I took a look at Tom’s head shot — a handsome, soulful, sensitive photo — and said, ‘There’s no damn way this weenie can play Sgt. Barnes.’ [Oh, my, I can literally hear Dye saying this words!]

“What I decided to do,” Dye continues, “was challenge him a bit, work some reverse psychology and tell him I didn’t think he had the right stuff. My hope was that he’d step up and try to prove me wrong and he damn sure did that. What I found was a guy who was not only a spectacularly talented actor but a tough guy for real, and someone who would have made an outstanding combat soldier.”

I think this is something I’ve never read before:

QUOTE: After graduating from the University of Missouri with a double major in communications and film editing, Berenger was lucky enough to immediately land a job working at a film production and editing studio in Kansas City. Specializing in training films, film footage of professional sporting events and documentaries, the little production company (which, interestingly enough, had also been the starting point for director and producer Robert Altman, years earlier) provided experience for Berenger in every facet of film production, except acting.

Berenger moved to New York to take acting lessons and within six months, he says, he was landing work.

There is also a little story about an influence his movie Looking for Mr Goodbar had on Berneger. Which somehow reminds me of¬†strange¬†chains of¬†occurrences¬†that sometimes happen to me… Maybe it is something about Gemini, like we are attracting weirdness or something.





From Dale Dye’s commentary

16 05 2008

QUOTE: Very siginificant scene in terms of Barnes’m ability to see into men’s soul from the depths of his own tortured soul. And I think Tom brought it beautifully in that character, and as you may have heard, this character is a sort of melt, of compositive of lot of guys that Oliver knew in Vietnam. And hopefully I had my (…) in there too, there is some aspects of Barnes that (…) and Tom just picked it up like a sponge, he just sucked it al in and when it was time, it would come up

– It was Tom’s idea not to talk after Sal and Sandy got blown up.

– DD seems to see Barnes and Elias as allegory for clear division between good and evil (a view that I don’t share)

– The fight in the village was fully improvised

– Taking snapshots with a camera was Dillon’s idea





Some totally new pics!

15 05 2008

It always surprises me to find something I never saw before.

http://www.premiere.com/gallery.aspx

QUOTE: Willem Dafoe [Sgt. Elias]: I got in a room with Oliver and he was very direct and charismatic. I liked the guy. And I think he was just looking for people to take this adventure with him. People that he knew would get behind the story and not be interested in it for money or career.

Tom¬†Berenger¬†[Sgt. Barnes]: One night in the Philippines, Oliver and I were having a couple of beers after dinner and he said, “I’ll tell you one thing, I was scared to death of [the actual soldier Sgt. Barnes is based on].”

Forest¬†Whitaker¬†[Big Harold]: When we got off the plane in Manila, it was this massive heat a force field of heat that was like, Pow! I had never been to any place like that before.”

Dafoe: The cool thing about boot camp was that it sort of paralleled the story in terms of how ill-equipped [the actors] were [at] dealing with what we were doing. That kind of became a key to understanding that all these young guys in their early twenties having to do these impossible and really horrific things and not having the preparation or understanding.

Berenger: We wouldn’t talk to the crew for about a week because they weren’t us. We had trained. They had air conditioning, clean sheets and Japanese food.

Whitaker: I talked to vets about the movie and all the guys I met said that it felt like the way it was.

Whitaker: I didn’t hate Oliver at all. I thought that he was a brilliant filmmaker. In fact, I even told him one time in Manila that I thought the movie was going to be a big success.”

Berenger: I had the strange feeling that everybody who was or had been in the military would see the film, and their families too. That’s quite a lot of people.”

Oliver¬†Stone¬†[director]: Platoon came out in the heart of the Reagan era and it was a shift in the paradigm. The Rambo films that had been so popular were no longer. The Oliver North scandal ironic that his name is Oliver broke a month or so before the film, so in a way, we drove a stake through the heart [of the era].”

Stone: When we went to Europe [to do publicity], there were places that were anti-American, about the military and Vietnam, and hated the movie. The intellectuals probably didn’t like it. They didn’t even want to look at it as a human film.