Barnes’ and Elias’ past in the AirCav?(3)

6 08 2008

Another hint to a possible common past of Elias and Barnes in the AirCav (found in the book while I was looking for something else — as usual):

QUOTE: Barnes grunted and wondered how any man could like crawling into dark, deadly holes. He wanted to kill gooks up where the wrold could warch, but Elias… he seemed to love this kind of shit. 

“You just make sure you don’t hit anything else down there. Elias. You ‘member how them f*****s used to trap them tunnels in the Ia Drang. The dinks ain’t been gone long and they might have left some troops behind”

Is is me, or the way Barnes says it suggests something they both went through together?

Barnes’ and Elias’ past in the AirCav? (2)

5 08 2008

a follow-up from here

I was so in love with my idea of Barnes being in the Air Cav that finally I started to believe he’d been shot during the Ia Drang battle. A friend pointed out that it make no sense:

If Barnes was wounded during the battle for Ia Drang, then he was shot in November 1965. He stayed a year in a hospital in Japan, married a Japanese woman and came back to Vietnam. He would be back some time in the beginning of 1967 and have enough time to re-establish his position in the new unit, before Chris met him.


Elias says “it happened in Ia Drang in ’66”. If it was something they both should remember, there was not enough time left, as in 1966 Barnes must have been in a hospital. If Barnes was shot in ’66 it had to be in the beginning so he still would have that 1+ year to recover.

I noticed there was something wrong with all that resoning and it sent me back to resources.


The Script:

RHAH: I know Barnes six months and I’ll tell ya something – that man is MEAN (…)

RHAH: Barnes took a bullet right there.  At Ia Drang Valley… (points to his forehead) And the cocksucker SURVIVED

KING: He done a year in Japan in the hospital, then when he gets out, the first thing he done is re-up. Four years he been in the field…


The book:

After the night ambush, as Barnes shoots the wounded enemy soldier (September 1967) he recalls “a time down in the War Zone C when his entire world had changed (…) He remembered staring into the muzzle [of a gun] and thinking he was going to die before he could really begin his Army career.”

After Sal and Sandy are killed (New Year’s Day ’68 ) Barnes recalls it’s been “more than 3 years since the ambush that left him marked this way.” 

This means he was wounded some time in 1964! This would give him enough time to come back in, let’s say, 1966 and still be a witness of whatever Elias was referring to. 


If War “Zone C” is the same as III Corps (source), Barnes couldn’t be wounded in Ia Drang, as the place was in II Corps area, near Pleiku (source). 

I’m not very good at processing this kind of data, so maybe my brain betrays me again. On the other hand it all could be just a big black plot hole and never was meant to make sense at all.

This “’66” is still bothering me. I couldn’t find anything interesting that happened in Ia Drang in 1966 so far.

ARCHIVE FILES: Barnes’ and Elias’ 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?

IMDB: the old discussion on Barnes vs. Elias resurrected

1 06 2008

Re: Barnes or Elias? who would you fight under? ARE YOU KIDDING?

QUOTE: by teddy-996 (Sun Jun 1 2008 02:49:12)

Barnes attempted to keep his men alive through strict discipline and combat efficiency, while Elias took a softer, more personal approach. Both are valid leadership methods.

Barnes did kill a civilian and a fellow soldier though, and that’s not something I condone.

I’d follow either into a fight, and I would take the lessons they’d teach to heart as quickly as possible.

 by MattBedo (Sun Jun 1 2008 04:22:33)

Teddy as I said in a previous post I feel that Barnes wsa not doing what he did out of pleasure or malice. You can see that he is a tortured soul. This is evident in his drunken speech. As Charlie Sheen says the scene where he kills Barnes was not the murder of Barnes but a release… A release welcomed by Barnes himself.

Barnes’s hapless killing of civilians occured through the stresses you have listed and it can to an extent be understood but you cannot condone it or say that you would follow it and turn a blind eye. I don’t like your opinion that one of Barnes’s leadership tactics is called’combat efficiency’. Would you call the execution of children combat efficiency?

Elias wasn’t perfect but Barnes was a murderer. As Edmund Burke says “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” People who say they would turn a blind eye in that situation? I admire their honesty, but I do not admire their lack of courage.

by teddy-996 (Sun Jun 1 2008 05:14:01)

As I said in the above post, I’m not on board with what happened in the village scene, nor do I approve of Barnes’ shooting of Elias. If it came down to it, I’d like to say that I would have been standing with Elias at Barnes’ court martial. However, if I was part of that platoon and under the same conditions they had been in, I’ve no idea how I’d respond. I didn’t get much of that type of combat stress in the navy; mine was mostly generated from sleep deprivation, boredom, isolation, and routine. For me, that means I can safely predict what I’d do in jail, underway on ship, or in an industrial environment. I can’t say for certain what I’d do if I were a castmember in this situation. Keep in mind most of the men were cheering Barnes on during the village scene; even members of Elias’ squad if I recall correctly. I doubt most of the characters portrayed would have condoned such behavior without the context.

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.

New thought on Barnes

19 05 2008

An interesting and original thought from IMDB Board

QUOTE by albert_frey2: Barnes suffered under the Messias complex. He had to win the war, he had to save his men from the Vietcong and everyone that disagrees is an enemy. He saw his methods justifiable, even though they were criminal and whoever disagreed with him in any way he lead the war had to be an enemy of his and an enemy of his men and the country, even though a man like Elias only wanted to lead the war with cleaner methods.

A man like him is incapable of realizing that such actions lead to the destruction of waht you want to protect and save.

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