Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – Platoon (1986)

Starring Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe & Charlie Sheen

Rating 8/10

If you’ve never been to war and really want to know what it’s all about, this is the film for you. Writer/Director Oliver Stone wrote this film shortly after serving in Vietnam. This is his story, based on his platoon/s, no holds barred.

The main character is college boy Chris Taylor (Sheen) who has volunteered to go to Vietnam (as Stone did) to understand the experiences of the lower class men who had no choice but to sign up. He is greeted at the airport by a mass of corpses and then introduced to his war worn platoon mates who think nothing of the newbie.

Eventually, he is accepted into the group and invited to their underground club. It’s here that he forms a bond with Sergeant Elias (Dafoe). Off they go marching through the jungle on night raids, day marches, wading through water and dodging booby traps.

On arrival in an ‘enemy’ village, Taylor starts to understand the danger Staff Sergeant Barnes (Berenger) poses to anyone who opposes him. He is a violent and ruthless man who will stop at nothing to wield a sort of justice for himself and, supposedly, his men.

Things get out of control and blood flows, battles rage and the true, disturbing nature is revealed in no uncertain terms.

This is a powerful film. Like The Deer Hunter, it’s difficult to watch. But Stone has recreated his experiences without apology, slapping audiences in the face with the utter devastation and gore that war brings.

I’m not sure if his latest antics have coloured my opinions but I thought Charlie Sheen’s performance was weak. I just could not connect with his character. There were few emotions and those that came out were in the most extreme scenes. Compared to the brilliance of Dafoe and Berenger, he was plastic and not fantastic!

Having said that, this is a riveting film. It is bloody, so be prepared to be shocked and confronted. But it does reflect the real horrors of war. This is not a long film either, so you have under 2 hours to chew all your fingernails off.

I won’t say you will enjoy it! But it is an experience that you cannot miss.

Platoon Trivia:

  • Budget – $6.5 million
  • For 2 weeks, the cast was required by contract to undergo a rigorous basic training exercise that included sleep deprivation, special effects surprise attacks, building their own bunkers and eating disgusting rations. By the time the 2 weeks were up, they had their characters ready for shooting.
  • The most famous scene where Elias raises his arms to the sky is taken from a 1968 photograph by Art Greenspon
  • Keanu Reeves and Kyle MacLachlan were offered the part of ‘Chris’ but turned it down! Bah bow. Johnny Depp was also considered but he was, at the time, unknown and too young. What a shame!
  • Charlie Sheen almost fell out of a helicopter when it turned too hard and actor, Keith David grabbed him back in.
  • During the 2 week boot camp, Dafoe drank contaminated water (from a dead pig in the river) and hallucinated for 24 hours.
  • Forest Whitaker’s fall in the opening credits was not planned.
  • Oliver Stone went on to make Heaven & Earth and Born on the Fourth of July  – both based on experiences with the Vietnam war.

We’re powering through the eighties. Next week we’ll be checking out The Last Emperor starring John Lone, Joan Chen & Peter O’Toole.


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