Sidetracks: The Horror…

15 09 2008

Some interesting background bits regarding Apocalypse Now, from an article about Kok Ksor, the President of the Montagnard Foundation, Inc.

In one of the final scenes of Apocalypse Now Marlon Brando, tired of the war, gives direction to who was sent to kill him: “Go, and tell of the horror, remember the heart of darkness.” The multi-decorated Colonel Kurtz has to die because he does not obey the orders of the American General Staff: he has allied himself with an indigenous tribe and is conducting a personal war against the Viet Cong.

From the screen of a laptop, Kurtz/Brando is talking directly to him, to the Vietnamese who since 1975 travels the world to tell of the horror, the horror of then and the horror of now.

[The Montagnard people] were in the middle of [the war], and they saw everything, and they lived the horror to the end. “Yes, I saw it too” like Colonel Kurtz “piles of small arms of the children chopped off with machetes to terrorize the population, to convince them not to accept American help, not even for the Polio vaccination. (…)

At the beginning we did not want to take sides. But the Americans have used us: they allowed the Viet Cong to attack our villages, and for us it was almost impossible to defend ourselves. Then they promised that at the end of the war they would have helped us regain our independence. So we did take sides, and we have been the fiercest allies of the Americans. But not of the Generals or of the Politicians: of the soldiers, of the non-commissioned officers. For us it was people who had come to help us, had come to die of a country that was not their own. Yes, the loyalty of the tribe around Colonel Kurtz in the film is real. We are a very loyal people.

This lines bear certain irony, as the model role of John Wayne as the American super-soldier seems to be at least a little ambiguous (as stated here).


A great friend of ours was John Wayne, who came to us, at Pleiku, where the Fourth Infantry Division was stationed, to film “Green Berets”, that is the history of how for many years the American strategy has been simply to fortify our villages. I was 17 years old. In those months he lived with us, in the breaks of production he wanted that us kids took him to the jungle “to understand”. With him we built a special link. We gave him our sacred bracelet, a brass strip in the shape of an arrow, with the symbols of the animals we had sacrificed for him. He wore that bracelet until the last day of his life. Now I know that Francis Ford Coppola is also our friend: his movie is almost perfect in all the details when it tells about us.

Wikipedia on Kok Ksor

Sidetracks: Heroes of My Lai honoured

14 09 2008

Was looking what MSN Live Search has to offer about OS and Platoon and found an excerpts from “Napalm am Morgen” (Napalm in the Morning), a German book about Vietnam War Movies which mentioned this:

From BBC News website, Saturday, March 7, 1998: 
Heroes of My Lai honoured

cudz.jpg image by alveniTwo soldiers [Hugh Thompson Jr and Lawrence Colburn] who stopped their comrades from slaughtering innocent civilians during the Vietnam War 30 years ago have been awarded the Soldier’s Medal. The family of a third, who was later killed in the conflict, will also receive the honour, the highest the US Army can award for bravery not involving direct conflict with the enemy.

I cannot believe it took 30 years! Sadly, Hugh Thompson died on cancer in 2006 and Ronald Ridenhour, who sputted the investigation in May 1998.

However on Thompson’s Wikipedia page there is a quotation of a dialogue between Thompson and Calley:

Calley: [I am] Just following [orders]…
Thompson: But, these are human beings, unarmed civilians, sir.
Calley: Look Thompson, this is my show. I’m in charge here. It ain’t your concern. 

I wonder if Stone intentionally gave a similar line to Barnes.


Further links: 

Well, what a way to spend 3 hours of a Sunday afternoon…

Calley: Look Thompson, this is my show. I’m in charge here. It ain’t your concern.

Sidetracks: A poster spotted in FMJ

10 09 2008

Don’t you just love computer monitors? They show so much more details than an old TV set, that sometimes I have an impression of watching an entirely new movie. 

This time I spotted a poster on the wall 

which somehow reminded me of the one I found in Born on the 4th of July.

Is it only me or they both look like a series? 

Still, googling Pride and Valor together didn’t help much.


Edited to add: The bottom line goes like “????? MEN”. After trying to enhance the picture in Photoshop, viewing channels, inverting it and doing another strange things to decipher the other word (it’s not so easy as some movies suggest) I finally gave up. Looked again today and suddenly “saw” what the word is: BUILDS. “Marine Corps builds men” is a popular line, there is even one military poster from the era with the same line, but it shows a photo. Why I cannot find those two?

They must be authentic, I doubt Kubrick and Stone hired the same artist to fake posters for their movies…

Sidetracks: Roger Ebert’s review of 84 Charlie MoPic

1 09 2008

The premise of the movie is that a documentary (“mopic”) is being made about a patrol, and all of the footage in the film is seen through a camera being carried along by a filmmaker assigned to the unit.

It’s a style that makes the action feel immediate and unrehearsed; the soldiers address the camera as if they’re talking to the man who’s carrying it, and the effect is that they’re talking to us. The strength here is that the movie seems to happen as we watch it. (…)

The first-person point of view has rarely been used for an entire film (Robert Montgomery made the camera into a private eye in “Lady in the Lake,” and Orson Welles once wanted to film “Heart of Darkness” through the eyes of various protagonists, including a bird), but Duncan’s angle in “84 Charlie MoPic” is intriguing: By explaining the presence of the camera, he gives a realistic basis to the technique, instead of using it as pure style.(…)

The subjective camera is probably responsible for many of the weaknesses of “84 Charlie MoPic,” as well as its strengths. Duncan knows more about war than he knows about dramatic construction, and this shows in the way he builds the various relationships in the movie.

read the whole review

Sidetracks: Dispatches Review

1 09 2008

Dispatches isn’t so much a travelogue or memoirs of a journalist as it is a slice of human reality in wartime. Herr hangs out with the troops in damp bunkers, gets stoned with the exhausted and freaked out journalists and gives the ordinary soldiers in the field a voice as never before. In a world where history concerns itself with the deeds and thoughts of the generals, presidents and kings, Dispatches takes us into the realm of real history, enacted by the young men who were made to lay their lives, hearts and sanity on the line.

Dispatches Michael Herr By Roadjunky

Sidetracks: Regarding Full Metal Jacket, a Newsgroup Discussion

24 08 2008

… at Kubrick website

Sidetracks: FMJ — Gustav Hasford’s Website

23 08 2008

This is something I wanted to post a while ago already. It’s not only interesting because of the behind-the-scenes stuff about FMJ, but also because of the stories about the “real” people behind FMJ’s characters, you will find them scattered all around the place. There is a picture of Mike Stokey, mentioned before who worked on Tropic Thunder.  There is a not so flattering opinion on Short-Timers by Oliver Stone. There are also some pictures of Dale Dye who was in the same correspondent group called “Snuffies” with Hasvord. Michael Herr, who cowrote FMJ wrote also some texts for the website. I suspect that the link between Dye and Herr is more than just this short quote from Dispatches:

QUOTE: ….There was a young Marine correspondent, Sergeant Dale Dye, who sat with a tall yellow flower sticking out of his helmet cover, a really outstanding target. He was rolling his eyes around saying “Oh, yes, oh yes, Charlie’s got his **** together here, this will be BAD,” and smiling happily. It was the same smile I saw a week later when a sniper’s bullet tore up a wall two inches above his head, odd cause for amusement in anyone but a grunt.

I still have to read through all that stuff, also through “Short Timers” text available online from the site. Jeez, I need 60 hours days, second pair of eyes and some damn extension allowing my brain to process the information at a satisfying speed. To do list grows faster than done list..

I wished there was a similar website with Platoon background… 

Full Metal Jacket at

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