Photo by MGM
In February 6 1987, was released one classic movie of the 80’s, ‘Platoon’. The movie is about Chris Taylor, a young naive American who gives up college and volunteers for combat in Vietnam. Upon arrival, he quickly discovers that his presence is quite nonessential, and is considered insignificant to the other soldiers, as he has not fought for as long as the rest of them and felt the effects of combat. Chris has two non-commissioned officers, the ill-tempered and indestructible Staff Sergeant Robert Barnes and the more pleasant and cooperative Sergeant Elias Grodin. A line is drawn between the two NCOs and a number of men in the platoon when an illegal killing occurs during a village raid. As the war continues, Chris himself draws towards psychological meltdown. And as he struggles for survival, he soon realizes he is fighting two battles, the conflict with the enemy and the conflict between the men within his platoon.
Stars: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe
Director: Oliver Stone
To celebrate the 30th anniversary, here are some of the curiosities about this movie.
- The film was banned in Vietnam because of its depiction of the Vietnamese. It was also banned in Malaysia for its excessive profanity and violence.
- The movie poster depicting Elias with his hands in the air, is a recreation of a 1968 photograph by Art Greenspon. This photograph was recognized as the 13th greatest military photograph in a Sept 2000 issue of the Army/Navy/AF Time.
- Several of the actors wrote messages on their helmets worn throughout the movie. Charlie Sheen’s helmet reads, “When I die, bury me upside-down, so the world can kiss my ass”, while Johnny Depp’s simply reads, “Sherilyn”, a tribute to Sherilyn Fenn, whom Depp was dating at the time. Mark Moses (Lt. Wolfe) had on his helmet a drawing of MAD magazine mascot Alfred E. Neuman with the phrase “What, me worry?” and, according to Tom Berenger, this caused Oliver Stone to laugh hysterically once during filming.
- At one point, a character is warned not to drink from a river because he might get malaria. During filming, Willem Dafoe got thirsty and drank water from a river, not knowing that a dead pig was not far upstream. He was sick for 24 hours, but not with malaria.
- Oliver Stone wrote the first draft of Platoon in 1971 and sent it to Jim Morrison in hopes that he would play the part Charlie Sheen would ultimately play. Morrison had the script on him when he was found dead in Paris. It is unknown whether he would have been cast had he lived, however Stone eventually made The Doors (1991) based on Morrison’s life.
- The movie is narrated by Charlie Sheen, eerily echoing his father Martin Sheen’s narration of another Vietnam war movie, Apocalypse Now (1979), also filmed extensively on location in the Philippines.
- Before shooting commenced, all of the actors had to undergo an intensive two-week basic training under the supervision of military adviser Dale Dye. Oliver Stone’s intention was not to have the men bond and act as one unit but to deprive them of sleep and make them utterly exhausted, so that they would be burnt out and therefore in character.
- Some of the Vietnamese cast members were actually tourists who were vacationing in the Philippines at the time of filming.
- Tom Berenger’s lifelike scar required three hours of makeup work every day of shooting.
- Platoon (1986) was the third highest grossing film of 1986. Australian hit Crocodilo Dundee (1986) was the second biggest film of the year, with Top Gun (1986) coming in first. It took $177 million in the US alone, and $353 million worldwide.