Platoon A Film That Portrays The Vietnam War

1836 words - 7 pages

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 Barnes does not do. Elias appears to be dedicated to the war cause which is the defeat of communist forces in Vietnam. However, Elias acknowledges that in his first tour of duty, he was a murderer who killed for the thrill but learned from the error of his ways. Elias is the most courageous member of the platoon. He enters a smuggling hole unaware of the dangers that lurked within the hole. One scene that the difference between Barnes and Elias is most evident occurs when the viewer sees the difference between the two groups. Barnes’s group is more conservative limiting their activity to drinking beer and playing cards while Elias’s group appear as a family dancing, socializing, and doing drugs. A second scene that the difference between Barnes and Elias is most evident occurs at a village nearby the camp. Barnes is convinced the villagers are aiding Viet Cong soldiers and even shoot a woman. Barnes even aimed at massacring the entire village but gets into a fistfight with Barnes over his treatment towards innocent people. A third scene where the difference between Barnes and Elias is most evident occurs at the final scene between Barnes and Elias. Elias believes that Barnes will aid him in a solo mission but Barnes takes...

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