Cast: Charlie Sheen (Private Chris), Willem Dafoe (Sergeant Elias), Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger)
Director: Oliver Stone
Alongside Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Oliver Stone’s Platoon is the best representation I have seen of the devastation caused by the Vietnam War. Of the two films, Platoon’s approach is a bit less poetic, opting for gritty and harrowing realism, quickly turning into a fairly direct indictment of one of history’s most violent and pointless armed conflicts.
The film focuses on a group of soldiers who, in most cases, had been stripped of most (if not all) of their humanity by the time we are introduced to them on screen. War in Platoon is nothing to glorify, there are no winners, losers or heroes to be found. In the Vietnam of the film there are only victims and victimizers. There are no attempts at turning war into an entertaining sensory spectacle, nor are there any attempts to glorify violence and brutality in any way. In fact, the image of the American soldier is downright controversial, depicting battle-scarred soldiers that have long forgotten how to distinguish between right and wrong.