9 September 2013


Platoon 1986
  • Director: Oliver Stone
  • Based on book: No
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen. Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Forest Whitaker, Keith David, Francesco Quinn, Kevin Dillon, John C. McGinley, and many more
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Johnny Depp  Nightmare on Elm Street, Slow Burn, Cry Baby, Edward Scissorhands, Arizona Dream, Benny and Joon, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Ed Wood, Don Juan DeMarco, Dead Man, Nick of Time, Donnie Brasco, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Ninth Gate, The Astronaut’s Wife, Sleepy Hollow, The Man Who Cried, Chocolat, Blow, From Hell, Lost in La Mancha, Pirates of the Caribbean (all four of them), Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Secret Window, Finding Neverland, Libertine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland, The Tourist
    • Charlie Sheen – Big Bang Theory, Pauly Shore Is Dead, Being John Malkovich, Wall Street
    • Willem Dafoe  – Spiderman, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Paris je t’aime, American Dreamz,  Manderlay, The Aviator, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, eXistenZ, Lulu on the Bridge, The English Patient, Wild at Heart, Cry Baby, Born on the Fourth of July, Mississippi Is Burning, The Last Temptation of Christ, Dear America, Streets of Fire
    • Tom Berenger – Inception, The Big Chill, Born on the Fourth of July, Someone to Watch Over Me, Eddie and the Cruisers, Looking for Mr. Goodbar
    • Keith David – Crash, Requiem for a Dream, Dead Presidents, Clockers, Reality Bites, Bird, Stars and Bars
    • Forest Whitaker – Repo Men, The Great Debaters, Smoke, The Crying Game, Bird, Good Morning Vietnam, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
    • Kevin Dillon – The Doors
    • John C. McGinley – The Rock, Seven, Wall Street
  • Why? Johnny Depp. Second movie of JD marathon.
  • Seen: Twice. First time in the movie theater here in Stockholm when it came out, with friends from the peace organization I then worked for.  Now: September 7, 2013

Stupid, stupid, stupid. War is absolutely the stupidest human activity ever and anyone who takes the words “defense” or “my country” or “the free world” or “glory” or “manhood” or any of the other stupid euphemisms into their mouth are at best lying to themselves and at worst guilty of murder.
And the American war in Vietnam is among the stupidest and criminal of wars.
Platoon is a sincere attempt to sort things through, ten years after the US lost the war and the rest of the world celebrated with the relief that the Vietnamese had defeated the invaders. I don’t think the US yet realizes that this is what they were. Have they? I hope I’m wrong.
But this movie tries to deal with the guilt, the war crimes, the horror, through a group of individual US soldiers.  Some are gung ho and just want to kill.  Others are horrified but are ensnared in the mad violence.  Some don’t like being there because it’s hot, insect-infested, wet, muddy and deadly. One or two have qualms about killing civilians. No one seems to have an inkling that the Viet Cong might be the good guys.
I suppose that’s too much to expect. The realization that the US had made an enormous, expensive mistake that killed or ruined the lives of thousands of young American men was painful enough. This movie helped the realization happen. Kudos for that.
The acting is mostly very good. Berenger, Dafoe and Sheen usually deliver. Johnny Depp’s part is so small that you have to be on the alert to even see him. The only clear shot of him is carrying a little girl away from the carnage. The rest are long shots but he does them well.
It is of course a visually overwhelming film. And we care about these guys, victims – willing or unwilling, i.e. brainwashed or not – of the insane war machine.  The class and ethnicity conflicts among these boys are dealt with forthrightly.
It’s a painful but must-see film. But I keep waiting for a movie from the North Vietnamese point of view.  Guess Hollywood isn’t up to that yet.

3 * of 5

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