Thursday, November 16, 2006

Oliver Stone's Platoon

Platoon is a portrayal of a soldier’s personal perspective of the Vietnam War. The story is about the 25th infantry division, and the true, raw life of Vietnam warfare, dedicated to the veterans. It is so raw and powerful; Stone depicts the conflict and struggle between characters extremely well. Many veterans can attest to the accuracy of the portrayal.

Chris Taylor is a young educated man who chooses to enlist to aid his country. Taylor is sent straight to the 25th Infantry Division a hard, experienced group. Certainly Taylor is not eased into the war, as he immediately faces hard work, harsh conditions, and unfriendly comrads. Life is constanly irritable: it is uncomfortable, days are long, and he cannot sleep. He is bitten by ants while traveling through the jungle, and is blamed for sleeping while on watch. An ambush occurs, but the North Vietnamese are unsuccessful.

He begins to miss home, and a feeling of nostalgia is consistant with every soldier. A common goal most soldiers seems to be doing the time and going home. Who can blame them? The atmosphere is completely hostile.

There are points in the film where Taylor clearly feels dead inside. The neverending downpour, sleepless nights in the dirt, the digging, the fox-like awareness (survival instincts,) and the heat are second nature, and he just wants out. The first person narrative voice over captures the struggle, and it is a brilliant addition to the film.

There are some huge ethical issues in the film, like the Vietnamese girl who would have been raped had Chris not intervened. There is a split between Barnes and O'neal; the soldiers are fighting themselves when they should be focused on the enemy. It is amazing to observe the most primitive human traits when forced into a world of violence and hatred. "She's not an animal" was the line Chris used to defend the girl. He remains moral while the majority does not. I believe it is because he is concious of life back home. There is peace in the world outside the enemy's territory; civility and morality exist, man should not resort to savagery. Chris is not overcome by insanity.

Many love this film for the combat scenes, the action, and the accuracy of the Vietnam War. I believe it is great because of the first person perspective that Stone uses to further emphasize the feeling of the young man in war. The voiceovers fit the film very well, balanced with the graphic intensity of the scenes. Pain, struggle, and inner conflict are portrayed nicely. There are also some beautifully executed scenes (Wolfe's relentlous retreat and ultimate death, for example.)

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