Oliver Stone’s 1986 film Platoon, which won four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, is rightly considered a classic of its kind. With Stone’s script drawing on his own experiences as an infantryman in Vietnam, the film remains a searing indictment on America’s involvement in Vietnam. It has many uncomfortable moments in between the gunfire, camaraderie and its now much parodied iconography.
It is the camaraderie that takes the focus of this documentary, directed by cast member Paul Sanchez, who played Doc in the film. Assembling most of the cast together to discuss their experiences, this documentary dives into the memories the cast have (including Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Keith David and Johnny Depp) of their unique time on the movie. This cast weren’t treated like coddled actors. Before principal photography began, the cast were sent out on an intense two week training program to ensure that they could be convincing as riflemen in the US Army on screen.
Under the strict program set up by military advisor and Vietnam Vet Dale Dye, who also demanded that the cast only refer to each other by their character names, the mock boot camp sent the cast on excursions, occasionally living it rough, getting them as close to the real thing as possible. The recollections from the cast make the whole experience sound like it falls somewhere in between a scouts trip from hell, to a rollicking good time with the boys. Yes, they were sleeping in ditches and getting lost in dangerous jungles in a country gripped by political unrest, but parties were had and bonds were formed.
Full review over at Filmhounds Magazine, originally published October 5th 2020.