*Platoon (1986)*

platoon

Starring: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, John C. McGinley, Kevin Dillon, Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Depp

Director: Oliver Stone

Summary: A young recruit in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man

Other Nominations: Director*, Supporting Actor (Berenger), Supporting Actor (Dafoe), Original Screenplay, Sound*, Cinematography, Film Editing*

For most anyone under the age of 30 (myself included), it’s kind of hard to believe that Charlie Sheen starred in a movie that won Best Picture..cocaine is a hell of a drug kids. This is a great movie that does something a little different than most of the “war is hell” movies that came before it, because of how it depicts American soldiers. My grandfather (who served in Europe during WWII) thought Platoon was the most true to life war film he’d ever seen, mainly because it depicts soldiers as flawed, human people that totally span the spectrum of decency; drug and alcohol and drug use is regular as possible so they can dull the pain and COs are often at each others necks. While there are roughly “good guys” and “bad guys” in the platoon, the film emphasizes how anybody could be pushed to doing horrible acts during wartime, as the environment is fundamentally poisonous to humanity.

I thought the more stripped down approach cinematography wise (compared to something like Apocalypse Now, which certainly had some visual flourish) worked in its favor for the type of story they wanted to tell and I probably would have given it the Oscar over The Mission (which is lavish and beautiful, but in a way that doesn’t fit quite as well with the story being told). The film famously used Adagio for Strings throughout and it works extremely well, although I think they overused it just a bit. The only other choice I didn’t agree with is that a certain character’s death is incredibly overdramatic and it feels out of place with the rest of the movie.

Rating: A-

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