I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…

Monday, June 4, 2012

Platoon, 1986

Rated R

This is yet another film about the Vietnam War and it stars a lot of well-known actors: Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Kevin Dillon (yes, from “Entourage”), Forest Whitaker, John C. McGinley (from “Scrubs”), and even Johnny Depp. (Side note: I had NO idea Johnny Depp was in this until I saw the credits! I had to look up which character he was on imdb.com and then go back and find a scene with him… he looks that different/young.)

After reading the synopsis of the film, I was apprehensive in seeing it because I do not do well with violent war movies, but it wasn’t as hard to watch as my imagination thought it would be (that’s not saying it was easy by any means). It is hailed as an authentic re-creation of the foot-soldiers’ Vietnam experience. As testament to that, some of the images in the film will stay with me my entire life. Having said that, I would recommend this film because I think it is important to be educated about our history and have an idea about what happened in our country’s past. While this is not a completely non-fiction story, there are obviously many elements of this movie that are truer than true.

Although there are many pivotal characters, the film centers mostly around Sheen’s character, Chris, and we hear some of his inner thoughts as he narrates letters he’s written home to his Grandmother. He enters the war as a college drop-out intending on doing something heroic and patriotic. He soon becomes disillusioned. This film also shows the divisions that were made even on our own side among the sergeants. 

After watching the hour-long making-of documentary, I learned that the actors were put through a true boot-camp in preparation for filming. Sheen and the other actors recalled it really being hell on earth- just like the war. The living conditions and food were downright appalling, all of which affected the way they were then portrayed on screen… a somewhat brilliant move of the Director but I wonder if actors would be willing to do that today.

My favorite piece of orchestral music, “Adagio for Strings”, plays during the beginning of this film (and at times throughout). It is such a beautiful piece of music that I found it interesting that it was playing in a war film. It was an attention-grabbing touch of juxtaposition, in my opinion, of the serenity of the music and the harsh conditions in Vietnam. That piece of music is used in many films, actually, but I first fell in love with it in “Lorenzo’s Oil”. (There is also a choral version of it as well: “Agnus Dei”, and it is just beautiful).

This film was up against “Children of a Lesser God”, “Hannah and Her Sisters”, “The Mission”, and “A Room with a View”. I’ve only seen “The Mission” (twice), which is based in South America in the 1750s, and would like to think it was close competition- that is a great film, and Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons are fantastic.


There are no favorite scenes in this film’s brutal depiction of the war… But like I mentioned earlier, there are scenes seared into my mind. My heart breaks for the families hurt on both sides from the atrocities of this war.


A man (or woman) is capable of just about anything when placed under great stress. This can be said about great strength and great violence.

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