Feature: A View from the Id

Platoon (1986)—Has It Really Been 25 Years?

Author: Bob Etier
Published: May 23, 2011 at 9:25 am

May 24, 2011, marks the release of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary DVD/Blu-ray combo Platoon. Unlike its star (Charlie Sheen), it has aged well and is still relevant. Platoon’s other “big” stars are Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe (each in a role one would expect the other to play), but the cast is packed with well-known names: Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Francesco Quinn, Kevin Dillon, John C. McGinley, Reggie Johnson, and an incredibly young Johnny Depp.

Platoon is intense and intensely personal, a quality that distinguishes it from many other war movies. Notwithstanding any political statement it makes, the film is not a generalization of the Viet Nam War experience. It is not the story of a “typical” platoon, but instead the story of a very particular platoon. Perhaps this is why it resonated with some Viet Nam vets, and not others.

Receiving eight nominations, Platoon walked away from the 59th Academy Awards with four (Best Picture, Best Director [Oliver Stone], Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing; other nominations went to both Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger [Best Supporting Actor], Oliver Stone [Best Original Screenplay], and Robert Richardson [Best Cinematography]).

Highlighting the inanity of giving a bunch of teenagers some very basic training and a weapon, and sending them into the jungle to kill an elusive enemy, Platoon is not so much about the war, but the relationships formed between men—good and bad. It is beautiful and ugly, heart-breaking and gut-wrenching. Few films are its equal in depicting the absolute horrors of war.

The DVD has only one “extra,” a theatrical trailer, but the Blu-ray is loaded with bonus features including the film in Hi-Def, audio commentary by Oliver Stone, audio commentary by Military Advisor Dale Dye (who also appeared as Captain Harris), deleted and extended scenes with optional Oliver Stone commentary, three documentaries, “Vignettes,” and the theatrical trailer and TV spots.


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Article Author: Bob Etier

Two words describe Bob Etier: "female" and "weird." Like many freelance writers, there's something about her that isn't quite right. Read her stuff and find out what.

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