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Platoon - Movie Review

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Platoon is a movie about the Vietnam War, but it has a different perspective than other war movies. While the battle between the NVA enemy troops and the United States soldiers is still a big part of the movie, it gives a lot of attention to a different kind of war, the one within the platoon itself. Two big personalities Elias and Barnes divide the platoon along ideological lines, and the conflict between them only hurts the Platoon. In the end, it's the war within the platoon that has the direst of consequences. One thesis of the movie Platoon that can be made is that war is paradoxical. Meaning self-contradictory because the Platoon needs to stick together to fight the common enemy yet spends time fighting within themselves. The attempt to defeat a foreign enemy in battle often leads to even greater conflicts, such as the mini-civil war within the platoon itself.

How do you make sense of guys rationalizing killing each other, or of death and destruction that surrounds them? By division, the enemy “gooks” are seen as a threat, as “others” which makes it easier to just kill them off. The soldiers in Platoon repeatedly resort to metaphors to describe their experiences, to explain things that are too horrific for normal explanations. The characters always describe the "reality" of war as something other than a reality where the horrors of Vietnam are unthinkable and where genuine morality exists. An illustration of how delusion acts as the catalyst in the objective story is when Bunny paints a fantasy about an old woman and her crippled son being the leaders of the village and agents for the Viet Cong army. After doing so, he commences to beat and kill the innocent civilians. Bunny is fabricating a fake backstory to support his actions. I understood his statement as irony, but he probably really believes in his own words. Of course the story HAS some validity as is surely happened that innocent looking people in villages were VC.

For the soldiers of the platoon, the jungle is a beast, a tropical hell; Barnes is a supernatural, god-like immortal,uncaring “Only Barnes can kill Barnes”. Taylor loses respect for Barnes after Barnes decides to send Elias’ squad out for an all night ambush resulting in Garner's death and Chris’ injuries. These two soldiers were new to the platoon and lacked the experience they needed and might have gained if Barnes hadn’t decided to send them out so soon; Elias a prophetic, Christ-like figure who Chris looks up to. The war makes reality hard to understand.The reality of war is different for each soldier. There's no such thing as a definite reality. Everybody processes things in a different way, which means reality is different for everybody. Each soldier in the Platon perceives and reacts to what is going on in a different way. While every soldier has their own version of reality, Platoon shows us that the reality of Vietnam was the reality of horror man's inhumanity to man. The horror and cruelty meaning different things to different soldiers.There are a number of examples illustrating how Chris prefers to deal with situations externally, and looks for physical solutions to his problems. For example Taylor drops out of college and enlists in the military to do something positive for his country he shoots his rifle at the feet of a young, retarded man he finds hiding. This is done as a means of releasing the tension and frustration that has built up from horrific ordeals he and his platoon have recently experienced. While his platoon pillages a small village, Chris rescues a young village girl from being raped by some of the men in his platoon; When Elias is missing in the jungle, Chris sets out to find him until he’s stopped by Barnes; Chris attacks Barnes when Barnes confronts him and others about killing Elias.

The movie presents death in Vietnam as a near certainty Taylor's entrance at the beginning is very much presented as an entrance into an underworld where everybody is already dead, the escape from which is nothing short of a miracle.The squalid, sweaty, dirty appearance of the soldiers throughout the film suggests that they already have a foot in the grave, that they are already dead. Some guys make it, others don't. Some guys are afraid of it like Taylor and Junior, while others don't seem to care like Bunny, Barnes. The Vietnam of Platoon is soaked in death. The sheer number of enemies enemy troops, booby traps, one's own fellow soldiers, and the jungle itself suggests that the whole conflict is a gigantic beast who feasts on death. From the very first scene of the movie, black rubber body bags were loaded onto planes that have just unloaded new recruits, America’s success in the war is put into question. Throughout the movie we experience the platoon’s frustrations, anxieties, and fears of fighting an invisible enemy that the platoon seems to have little to no impact against.

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