Tong Thomson Ng
EWRT 2 (0730)
Extra Credit – Movie Review: PLATOON
It took Americans a very long time to accept the fact that our involvement in Vietnam, however well-intentioned it might have been to begin with, was in the end a tragic failure. Not only were fifty-eight thousand of our finest young people killed, but so were two million more Vietnamese.
But it took the guts and the intelligence of Vietnam vet Oliver Stone to bring this point home in his masterpiece PLATOON. Pretty much autobiographical, PLATOON stars Charlie Sheen as a recruit who, upon entering country, is put into a rag-tag platoon patrolling the Central Highlands of Vietnam during the fall of 1967. After some truly horrific first combat scenes, Sheen finally gets his bearings but then realizes the tragic mistake he made in joining to fight. Soon, he becomes involved in an inter-platoon war between his two sergeants--Barnes (Tom Berenger), the personification of Death and Reality; and Elias (Willem Dafoe), the personification of Humanity.
In the end, we come to the realization that the enemy was always staring us in the face; but instead of being Oriental or communist, that face was American. It was us against ourselves, as Sheen points out in his closing narration. Oliver Stone must be commended for portraying this misbegotten war for what it was: the death of a nation's innocence where we all found out just how imperfect we could really be.
Platoon. Dir. Oliver Stone. Perf. Charlie Sheen. An Orion Pictures Release, 1986.