Academy Award winner of Best Picture of 1986. Best Director, best editing, best sound. 4 More Oscar nominations. Another 18 wins, and 9 nominations. I can stop here and hope that this can speak for itself, but Platoon is much more than being an amazingly made film. Oliver Stone directed not just another war movie, he created an unforgettable masterpiece.
I always had a strong love for movies about the military and the war, plus this one had Johnny Depp in it, so I was quite excited to sit down and watch Platoon. I remember the exactly moment; I know exactly how I sat on my bed, I remember what time of year it was, I remember the paper I was supposed to be writing for school. If it was just another movie I bet I wouldn’t have remembered all of these things. Platoon marked a part of my life where I felt more alone than any other time. I wasn’t expecting a movie such as this to break down the walls I had barricaded myself into.
Throughout the movie not only were the Americans fighting with the Viet Cong, but there was a war brewing between them, and within them. This internal war was reflected in the way they treated the Viet Cong people, the way they burned down their villages, raped their women, and took them as prisoners. This mirrored reflection was a fine line that each of the characters walked on in every scene. Some controlled themselves with alcohol and drugs, some with religion, others with revenge. But it was Taylor’s (Sheen) struggles that brought me into this movie. His battle of loyalty, where he stood within his platoon, that was his battle between good and evil. Barnes (Berenger) on one side reflected the anger, and evil that was existing; and on the other side was Elias (Dafoe) who was able to survive the war through escapism. Everybody has these demons, but it’s which demons you remain loyal too that define you as a person. Do you let anger, and sadism take over your life? Or do you try and find a way to deal with those feelings and try to live your life the best you can? Don’t get me wrong, this is not a picture of good vs. evil as it has so clichéd-ly been done, it is not so black-and-white. The flaw of this movie is not the duality of those binaries and some may suggest. It is possibly that people believe this movie to be anti-war, anti-American, or anti-soldier. It is in my opinion none of the above. I think it’s about what went wrong in the minds of soldiers during the Vietnam War; which is that the America’s may have lost the war due to the internal struggles of their military efforts and bad intentions at its core. This ‘moral to the story’ if you will, is what I think everybody must get past in order to move on in their lives. There is evil in everyone’s lives, there is corruption of innocence, but it’s if you let that take over your mind and spirit is when you crash. At the point in my life when I watched Platoon I felt very troubled, unsure of who I was or where I was going; many people can relate to that. In the film, evil has it’s revenge. I cried. This was the first movie I had ever shed a tear for, and it was because I felt that there was no hope for anything good in this world. But it was this fear that made me stand up and tell myself that I wouldn’t let that happen to me. At that moment I knew how Taylor felt. I knew that just because one good thing in my life doesn’t work out, doesn’t mean I can’t pick myself back up and direct myself towards something that could possibly be better. You get hardened in time, as Taylor did, but you become aware of what makes you, you; and in the end you have to come out of every battle a better person.
Chris Taylor: It’s the way the whole thing works, people like Elias get wasted, people like Barnes just go on making up the rules any way they want. So what do we do? Sit in the middle and suck on it.