Was platoon America’s mea culpa for Vietnam?
In the not distant past, Hollywood experienced war (world war II) as the most stable and lucrative four years in its history with a mere interruption in pace and timing. “The industry gave every indication that it intended to march into the postwar period in the same way that it had marched out of the Depression—by avoiding the depiction of any of the unpleasant realities of American life. ” (Cook, 1996, p. 443) Unlike immediately following World War II, it took decades for Hollywood to work through the Vietnam conflict years.
With its powerful studio production system and time-tested film genres pretty much intact, producing a true period Vietnam epic was at best risky. Platoon (1986) is account of Oliver Stone’s, the writer and director, Vietnam experiences. The story follows a single American infantry platoon in Vietnam through several months in late 1967 and early 1968 which provides a useful overview of the relationship between film and history.
“Traditionally, evidence examined by historians is found in written documents: letters, diaries, autobiographies, memoirs, newspapers, government records, and the like. But scholars can look to nontraditional sources as well: the architecture of industrial America, for example, the oral testimony of participants in events both great and small, and the elements of popular culture, including …motion pictures. ” (Wetta, 1992, p. 35)
Supporting the position that Vietnam War period films can be studied from a historical perspective simply by analyzing them for themselves, stands solidly on their own visual and chronological terms. “In the context of a decisive political turn to the right in the 1980s, the American military, the Vietnam war, victory culture and the Vietnam veteran were rehabilitated in an array of cycles…” (Neale, 2000, p. 132) When assessing a period film, the medium presents its own concept of narrative that is different from the concept of a “story” presented in literature.
Taking the position of absolute disagreement from commentary of the day, “Platoon is an example of an excellent film’s failure in the attempt to present both a literary story and a postmodernist, holographic vision. ” (Palmer, 1995, p. 20) Platoon’s delivery of morality was clearly 1960’s black and white interpretation, no gray area, standard order of day. Platoon is really about the historical feel of the Vietnam War, the experience of it in the trench as well as stateside through commentary and immediacy, not empty abstract morality symbolism for intellectual discourse.
Additional ire and contempt was amassed on the film’s maker and the film’s historic significance by mostly literally critics and film reviewers, “Indeed, it is frequently noted that films like Platoon not only do not effectively protest war but actually participate in and extend it, to the point where the spectator him- or herself becomes the target of the warrior-filmmaker’s assault. ” (Lewis, 1998, p. 125)
“Vietnam Era films began to appear at the end of the 70s, including Hal Ashby’s Coming Home, Sidney Furie’s The Boys in Company C, Ted Post’s Go Tell the Spartans, Best Director-winning Michael Cimino’s controversial Best Picture-winning The Deer Hunter, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979). ” (Dirks, 2006) Contemporaries include, Apocalypse Now, released in 1979 about a soldier’s introspective journey during the Vietnam War directed by Francis Ford Coppola is more allegory than war film.
The Deer Hunter, a 1978 film that tells the account of a group of American steel workers during the Vietnam War written and directed by Michael Cimino. Coming Home a 1978 production about a handicapped Vietnam War veteran’s difficulty in re-entering civilian life directed by Hal Ashby deal with the psychological aftereffects of battle, and Full Metal Jacket is a black comedy about dehumanization in the military, a 1987 film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, characters describe the Vietnam War from the view point of US Marines.Sample Essay of Essayontime.com