Platoon a Film That Portrays The Vietnam War Essay

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Platoon is perhaps the most influential example of the Vietnam War. Oliver Stone, director of the film, who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, portrays the war as more of an internal conflict between American soldiers rather than a conflict with the Vietcong militants. The film is narrated by Chris Taylor played by Charlie Sheen who is a new recruit to “the Nam”. He is assigned to a platoon that is stationed somewhere near the border of Cambodia; Cambodia was off limits to any American infantry. Taylor immediately recognizes the division within the platoon and at the center, Sergeant Barnes and Sergeant Elias played by Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe respectively. Sgt. Barnes is a ruthless and revengeful man who Taylor respects early in the film. However, Sgt. Elias displays a compassionate side that was scarce within the platoon. As the film develops, the viewer witnesses the internal conflict between Barnes and Elias that would eventually have a shocking result. As Taylor gains experience in “the Nam”, he realizes that war is not only regulated to fighting the known enemy, the NVA, but also fighting internally.
Sgt. Barnes and Sgt. Elias are the leaders in Taylor’s platoon. Barnes is a ruthless, violent, and revengeful man. He presents himself as an aggressive warmonger who seeks the thrill of killing. Barnes’s agenda in the Nam is to eradicate anyone he suspects to have aid the NVA or anyone who halts his ambitions. To his men, he is the strong headed leader who has a no nonsense attitude when it comes to battle. This attracts certain men in the Platoon. On the other hand, Elias is a caring, thoughtful, and courageous leader who is the archetype of the term war hero. Elias introduces himself to Taylor which is something Bar...

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...d in Vietnam he could not imagine what he got himself into. When assigned to the platoon, he struggled to pick between Barnes and Elias which caused some resentment towards him. At the end, he does not hesitate to kill Barnes but showed some sign of guilt on his trip back to the army hospital for what he had become.
Oliver Stone created a legendary portrayal of the Vietnam War. One can understand the controversy that followed the production of the film given its legitimacy and accuracy. Before Platoon was realized, Americans viewed Vietnam as the war America lost but neglected to understand the soldiers that fought in the war. As a result, a generation of drug abusers, mental patients, and criminals were born out of the post-Vietnam climate. However, Platoon introduced Americans to the horrors and effects that a war like the Vietnam War could have on a soldier.

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