29 07 2008

Quote: Screen legend Mickey Rooney was so distressed after seeing Platoon he said a sign should be placed outside cinemas banning women.


Platoon’s Year Of Healing Bridging The Gap Between Veterans And Those Didn’t Go

27 07 2008
By John Marshall P-I Columnist
SUNDAY, January 31, 1988

QUOTE: “Platoon” has been a powerful agent of change, perhaps the single most powerful agent of change affecting the lives of Vietnam vets and their acceptance by those who didn’t go two decades ago.(…)

But the most powerful effect of “Platoon” was felt less in the increased number of Vietnam vets showing up someplace than it was in the personal lives of Vietnam vets changed for the better.

That was shown by some Vietnam vets who started to feel so proud of what they’d done that they began wearing T-shirts that said, “Platoon: The Original Cast.”

Nick Wetherby’s blog

9 06 2008

Sigh. It’s always the same. One wants only to check facts for a quick replay on a forum, and gets carried away for an hour. Or two…

On IMDB Platoon site of movie connections I found following:
References: Pinocchio (1940) Moby Dick (1956)

While Moby Dick is clear (and recognized at last), what the **** Pinocchio has to do with Platoon?!? 


Actually I was checking something for IMDB discussion, but found Ric Wetherbee Public Journal instead. Good written stories in that blog, still have to check the other entries, but actually I shall be working now… anyway, some lines:

QUOTE: (…) when assigned to Vietnam as a spec 4, and instant squad leader, (for the first time) it was evident that my bag of tricks had to change for this setting. Just how does one motivate men to risk the ultimate sacrifice, day after day trying to do something they do not wish to do in a place they do not want to be? For me, this was going to require something I had yet to invent. The Army’s way of doing it was not going to be adequate here. We had to escalate to a higher plane than simply following orders. (…)

Nearly forty years later, I should not be surprised when meeting some of these same men, that they might still hold me in contempt. I believe that those for whom I had daily life and death responsibility, understood. Others did not, and likely never will. I didn’t’ need their approval then, and while it would be nice to move on and put it behind us, I still do not.

It was a horrible, nearly impossible task we were given. We found ways to make it work.

The 1986 movie Platoon was incredibly cathartic for me. It was the first realization that I was not the only person who had made inhuman adjustments in order to find ways to lead in that setting.

While I did not shoot any of my own men, I did all the other things of the Sgt. Barnes character in the movie. In the plot, he was easily percieved as the bad guy. For me, Oliver Stone did a marvelous job of recreating this almost mystical persona who successfully drove his men to get the job done.

We were not asked to win a popularity contest. But we were also not equipped with any sane, humane way to carry out the tasks. It required finding our own way, and that’s how some of us did it. I am not saying that my choices were right, and certainly, often were not popular. But when I was scrambling to find a way to do what needed to be done, these choices worked for me.

Reactions: Chuck Norris Warns The Moviegoing Public About Platoon

17 05 2008

QUOTE: Chuck Norris Fact: In 1987, the star of Missing in Action and Mission in Action II: The Beginning(not to mention the forthcoming Braddock: Mission in Action III), sensed a change in the political and cultural winds that he feared might imperil the making of Missing in Action IV: Electric Boogaloo. Consequently, he issued a statement trying to warn people off Oliver Stone’s Platoon, saying that if audiences wanted to “be depressed” by “all that realism”, they should just sit at home and “watch the news.” Stone, perhaps fearing the wrath of the man who never sleeps but only waits, chose not to return fire and get into a feud with the future Texas Ranger, and the story soon faded from the papers. But it remains proof of Chuck Norris’s unique vision that he’s probably the only person on Earth to ever accuse Oliver Stone of realism.


The Bookshelf: Platoon. Bravo Company by R. Hemphill

15 02 2008

Finally I took a plunge and re-read the book. To my surprise it was a much better read than my first attempt in 1997. Which is good indicator for my increasing English skills. *proudly tapping myself on the shoulder* I still get lost in the military and radio lingo though, so it is nothing I will read again just for fun. 

There is a striking dissonance between the moods in the book and in Platoon. It felt as if Bravo Company belonged to a completely different universe, to another, cleaner, more logical war than that described by Stone. Hemphill’s war is like a strategy game: there were some bloody moments, but recalling it I have an impression of observing everything from a bird’s eye view. Probably it’s because Hemphill did have a different perspective. He knew the tactics, the “bigger picture” of what’s going on, but it was not a grunt’s POV.

There are two particular moments echoing the movie. The first is the attack at the Firebase Burt near the Cambodian border, on the New Years Day 1968 when the 9th VC Main Force Division overran the perimeter and the air support had to drop napalm dangerously close to American positions. There was some hand to hand fighting that night, and in the morning bulldozers were digging mass graves for the dead Vietcong — the enemy body count was about 500, against surprisingly low american casualties (unlike in the movie, where it was like a final extermination of the platoon’s leftovers).

Another incident reminds of the church battle: the point man was killed as the unit entered a bunker complex masked by ant hills (remember Chris hiding behind an anthill?) There is a piece of dialog surprisingly similar to the radio talk between capt Harris and a panicked soldier, and a glimpse of bodies uncovered by wind blow.

And I think that capt Harris is based on Hemphill himself. 


The book was clearly written as an answer and a counterbalance to Platoon. But if people see it as “denouncing Oliver Stone’s lies” it’s because of a misunderstanding. IMO the problem is caused by Stone showing the unit’s name so prominently at the beginning of the film. Is suggests that all what happened took place in that one unit. Stone explained, over and over again, that the movie’s story is a compilation of his experience in four different units, but that statement is easy to overlook. 

Stone was in Vietnam from September 67 to November 68. Hemphill — from October 67 to February 68, which means he left before things started to worsen. And to state accidents like drug use, fragging etc., didn’t happen at all only because they didn’t happen in Hemphill’s company during Hemphill’s tour, make as much sense as stating that Platoon is the only true movie about the Vietnam war. To me both, the movie and the book, are parts of a bigger picture.

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