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Platoon (1986)

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A young soldier in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man.

Director:

Oliver Stone

Writer:

Oliver Stone
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Popularity
355 ( 255)
Top Rated Movies #193 | Won 4 Oscars. Another 19 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Berenger ... Sgt. Barnes
Keith David ... King
Willem Dafoe ... Sgt. Elias
Forest Whitaker ... Big Harold
Francesco Quinn ... Rhah
Kevin Dillon ... Bunny
John C. McGinley ... Sgt. O'Neill
Reggie Johnson ... Junior
Mark Moses ... Lt. Wolfe
Corey Glover ... Francis
Johnny Depp ... Lerner
Chris Pedersen ... Crawford
Bob Orwig ... Gardner
Corkey Ford Corkey Ford ... Manny
David Neidorf ... Tex
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Storyline

Chris Taylor is a young, naive American who gives up college and volunteers for combat in Vietnam. Upon arrival, he quickly discovers that his presence is quite nonessential, and is considered insignificant to the other soldiers, as he has not fought for as long as the rest of them and felt the effects of combat. Chris has two non-commissioned officers, the ill-tempered and indestructible Staff Sergeant Robert Barnes and the more pleasant and cooperative Sergeant Elias Grodin. A line is drawn between the two NCOs and a number of men in the platoon when an illegal killing occurs during a village raid. As the war continues, Chris himself draws towards psychological meltdown. And as he struggles for survival, he soon realizes he is fighting two battles, the conflict with the enemy and the conflict between the men within his platoon. Written by Jeremy Thomson

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The first casualty of war is innocence.

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | Vietnamese

Release Date:

6 February 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Platoon See more »

Filming Locations:

Luzon, Philippines See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$241,080, 21 December 1986, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$138,530,565
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hemdale, Cinema 86 See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Several times in the movie, a character will use the phrase "xin loi" (pronounced zin-loy). This is Vietnamese for (roughly) "Sorry about that". See more »

Goofs

Early in the movie we are informed it is September 1967 (somewhere near the Cambodian Border). Not much later, after Chris returns from his first injury, he is cleaning out the latrines with King and Crawford. King has 39 days left on his tour (unknown end date) and Crawford 92 days (end date April 17 1968). Taylor has 332 days left so he has been there for a little over a month. This means the current date must be somewhere toward the end of October 1967, meaning King's last day should be mid December 1967. And Crawford has a whole lot more than 92 days left. Later on, the bunker and village scene occurs on New Year's Day 1968 (It's important that it occurred at the start of 1968 as this is likely a metaphor for the changing US view of the war both on the home front and at the strategic level. This is the time the platoon clearly begins to disintegrate, and Barnes takes control while the platoon's factions become far more open). In the prelude to the final scene in the movie which occurs during or later than Jan 1968, King exclaims "I'm too short for this s**t" but he gets a lifeline when his home orders come in. Despite being months overdue he is happy when he thinks they have made a mistake in his favour, when in reality he should have been long gone by this point. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Pvt. Gardner: [seeing body bags] Oh, man. Is that what I think it is?
Sergeant: All right, you cheese-dicks, welcome to the Nam. Follow me!
See more »

Alternate Versions

TV version has much of its dialogue redubbed and shots refilmed, replacing such lines as "He thinks he's Jesus F---in' Christ!" with "He thinks he's George Freakin' Washington!" See more »


Soundtracks

TRACKS OF MY TEARS
Composed by Smokey Robinson (as William Robinson), Marvin Tarplin and Warren Moore
Performed by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (as Smokey Robinson and The Miracles)
Published by Jobete Music Co., Inc.
Courtesy of Motown Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
within Vietnam and beyond
8 May 2004 | by red_coreSee all my reviews

Platoon is generally regarded as one of the strongest anti-war films of all time. While this is certainly true, what's often overlooked -- at least after only one run through the film -- is that it's chiefly a tale of God vs. Satan, and the war is there to set a perilous backdrop. No doubt, Platoon shows the Vietnam War was a big mistake, but being a fictional documentary on Vietnam is far from its purpose.

The story is told from the point of view of Chris Taylor (solidly played by Charlie Sheen), a middle class kid who goes to Vietnam to do what he thinks is his patriotic duty. In the first ten minutes, Chris is shown in the uncomfortable jungle, struggling just to survive in the natural environment, let alone do any actual damage to the enemy. Quickly we're introduced to the well-known facets of the Vietnam War: The lack of sense of purpose, the wraith-like enemies, the obvious prevalence of the uneducated and poor among the fighting grunts -- and, soon, we see how these factors combine to cause widespread low morale and some actions of more than questionable ethical value.

Chris sees his platoon fragmented into two halves, each aligned with one of two men -- Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe) and Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger). These two really are the driving force behind the film. They both have nominally the same enemy (the Viet Cong), but, really, it doesn't take long to realize that Elias is Good, and Barnes is Evil (the "enemy" does not enter into the moral equation of this film, at all -- it's an outside threat, same as malaria-carrying mosquitoes or even friendly fire). I won't deny it is a very black-vesus-white relationship, but this polarity does not feel contrived. Elias feels the futility of the war and has respect for life; Barnes fights the war doggedly and has no compassion, period. Both are efficient soldiers fighting the same enemy, but really -- as is at one point aptly put by Chris Taylor himself -- they are fighting for the souls of the platoon members, as the outcome of the war is never really in doubt.

Elias/Barnes' hold on the platoon, and the viewer, is developed through several war sequences. A chilling scene takes place in a village, where our soldiers find no VC, but they do find a cache of VC weapons. The inhumanity of certain soldiers, including of Sgt. Barnes, is unflinchingly shown here. It leaves the viewer with an empty feeling that is hard to shake, reminding of the similarly empty look on a woman's face after she sees her son killed in front her.

Elias doesn't take kindly to this kind of behavior. Elias and Barnes come closer and closer to open conflict, as Taylor becomes a veteran, obviously siding with Elias. Meanwhile, the fate of the platoon comes closer and closer to them, culminating in an explosively shot action conclusion. The end is dark, but morally satisfying.

Don't watch this movie for the action. That's not to say it's not well shot, or unrealistic. On the contrary. It's quite convincing. But it doesn't show war as a fun sport, and it's never a question of good guys versus bad guys. There will be no cheering for the "good guys" or anyone else in this one. Stone succeeds brilliantly at putting the viewer into the middle of it all, and it's not a pretty sigh (and definitely not for the squeamish, either).

On the other hand, if you want great acting, it's here. Dafoe and Berenger do incredibly well, with the incredibly good (and seemingly authentically sounding) script. Barnes is horrific as he challenges three men to kill him, drinking hard liquor out of the bottle. They don't make a move, and neither will you, though you'll hate him just as much as them. Dafoe is a ray of light in the dark as Elias. The cast is rounded out with many characters, all well played, and adding another dimension to the film.

The technical aspects of the film are superb, though one never thinks about them much, as the movie is completely engrossing. The production values seem quite good, as well. The most stunning peripheral aspect of this film, however, is the music. It's emotional and draining, and used to great effect -- listen for the main theme as you watch the village burn.

Watch this one a few times, and you'll likely be quite moved each time. I'll be surprised if you give it less than what I gave it: 9/10


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