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"Platoon" (1986), Directed and Written by Oliver Stone, Produced by Arnold Kopelson, Starring Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, and Charlie Sheen


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"Platoon" was the first film in a trilogy by Oliver Stone (a director whom I respect more than I like), the other two films being "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989) and "Heaven & Earth" (1993).

I saw it in the theater when it first came out, and I still remember Willem Dafoe's face when he realizes he's about to be betrayed - that was an extremely powerful moment, and he was really good in this movie.

Pretty cheesy opening the movie with Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" - sure, it's a great piece, but if you're going to drop $6 million making a movie, let's have an original score, please? There are plenty of talented composers out there who need the work and the money, and they would have done just fine - you would have even had something you could have called your very own.

In case anyone's wondering how big a platoon is, here's a chart of Unit Sizes. A platoon consists of 25-40 people, and is usually led by a lieutenant - it's the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer.

"Platoon" takes place in 1967 somewhere near the Cambodian border, and depicts the Bravo Company and 25th Infantry.

Interestingly, Forest Whitaker and Johnny Depp (!) are both in this movie. Speaking of which, it is essential to use this Cast list when watching on streaming video - it allows you to stop the movie as many times as you wish, in order to memorize names and faces (quite a luxury, in this film).

This movie is exhausting to watch - it makes one wonder just how exhausting it must have been to actually be there. Have there been any articles written about how closely Platoon reflected actual trench warfare? Because if this is how it was (and I suspect it is, at least in certain situations), boy did this suck for the soldiers on *both* sides.


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Platoon.   I suppose its described as a trilogy of movies related to the War in Vietnam but the stories and events were, as I recall, completely unrelated; and very different experiences.  Platoon itself;  horrific scenes of war and violence.  Just horrific.  The 3 films stand on their own.

Vietnam;  the first war caught on TV.  Young men were drafted to fight there.  Huge number of deaths and injuries.  Many more with PTSD.  I'm an age peer of many vets of that time, attended college, received a draft deferment and by the time I graduated the draft had ended.  i've known plenty of war veterans of that time and period.  Most will never speak of their experiences.  My father's generation returned from WWII.  I never heard anything about combat experiences from men of my dad's generation and they were virtually all vets, virtually all went over seas.  It was all, I trust, horrific.

Vietnam really changed many things in the States.  WWII virtually everyone was involved.  Relatively huge percentage of the population in the Armed forces.  Everyone was involved domestically or overseas.  People sacrificed at home.

Vietnam:  Some were involved with their lives.  Many were totally uninvolved.  Really totally.  Sacrifice, complete during WWII was divided among the population very differently and unevenly. After Vietnam the US draft ended.  By the time of Afghanistan and Iraq, absolutely no draft and a tiny percentage of Americans were really involved in the war and sacrifice.  Way less than during Vietnam and 100% different than during WWII.   The US changed dramatically.

Platoon made Vietnam war scenes vivid.  Powerful film.  Very difficult to watch.  For people of my approximate age, and especially with memories of impactful experiences from that time and era it still leaves scars.

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