Jump to content
JulyDiaz

Platoon

Platoon  

11 members have voted

This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1. Does "Platoon" belong on the AFI List?

    • Yes
      4
    • No
      7

  • Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.
  • Poll closed on 03/01/19 at 08:00 AM

Recommended Posts

 

I think there are some moments where Berenger is framed as a devil. Look at the way Stone cuts to his eyes at the end of the final battle scene, as he's about to cut down Charlie Sheen (around 2:45):

 

His pupils are highlighted in red, with the fire of the air strike behind him. Definitely a devil image here.

And I don't think I'd say Barnes is a Satan characters necessarily, but I think he - literally and figuratively - embodies the ugliness of war. At one point, Elias' group wonder if Barnes can even be killed. The truth is, Barnes - the man - can, but the ugliness he represents cannot. That's what war is. In order to survive the war, you have to be a little Barnes; in order to survive after the war, you have to be a little Elias.

 

Satan's physical appearance is a heavy focus in Milton's Paradise Lost, which is the text that most other works allude to when they allude to Satan. First of all, he's "monstrous" in size; he's compared to the Leviathan and we're told he towers above all of the fallen angels. Also, even though the poem opens after Satan has already fallen, the reader is told that he was beautiful and "cherubic," which connotes a baby-like face. I think both of those descriptions are interesting because not only does Tom Berenger seem to hulk over everybody, especially as he walks fully upright through a gun fight, but also because his scars make his cheeks (the most pronounced feature on a cherub's face) stand out:

 

Tom-Berenger-Platoon.jpg

 

Satan's appearance mirrors his character throughout his arc. He is not a purely "evil" character at first, -- he's just trying to assert authority over his own existence ... he wants to live for his own glory, not God's. When he's cast out, he claims that "it's better to reign in hell than to serve in Heaven." But as he dwells in hell and grows more angry and jealous of God's newfound love for Humanity, his hatred causes him to physically change, such that by the end, he's compared to beasts and reptiles. And the speaker declares toward the end of his story, "Hell within him, Hell he brings, and round about him" meaning that hell now exists wherever he is.

 

This all seems to pretty clearly echo in Barnes. As Cameron said, he's the embodiment of war just like Satan is the embodiment of hell. But he also brings war along with him as he goes. He is malicious, egotistical, and savage, fueled by a hatred of everything, especially Elias who is seemingly driven by good intentions ("Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is"), and he makes an awful situation even worse just because he can.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post

Neil Gaiman is overrated.

 

(Ugh, I feel dirty. I apologize. I feel like I have to clap my hands and yell “I do believe in Marquis de Carabas.”

That first sentence had me all...

giphy.gif

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

 

That first sentence had me all...

giphy.gif

 

BbiP.gif

 

The truth is: Neil is a gift I don’t deserve.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

 

Satan's physical appearance is a heavy focus in Milton's Paradise Lost, which is the text that most other works allude to when they allude to Satan. First of all, he's "monstrous" in size; he's compared to the Leviathan and we're told he towers above all of the fallen angels. Also, even though the poem opens after Satan has already fallen, the reader is told that he was beautiful and "cherubic," which connotes a baby-like face. I think both of those descriptions are interesting because not only does Tom Berenger seem to hulk over everybody, especially as he walks fully upright through a gun fight, but also because his scars make his cheeks (the most pronounced feature on a cherub's face) stand out:

 

If I may, since I'm a bit of a Bible nerd, while we have the modern interpretation of cherubs as the "fat baby angels" that's not what the Bible says. Early Jewish tradition has them as "youthful" but we shouldn't assume that "youthful" means "baby". The cherubim were believed to be the ones guarding the entrance to the Garden of Eden with flaming swords, the cherubim were the angels depicted on the Ark of the Covenant as being above the mercy seat, the transported the throne of Yahweh.

 

In Ezekiel, two slightly different descriptions are given, they have four faces (man, lion, eagle and either that of an "ox" or that of a "cherub"--although the author makes it clear that they were the same creatures he witnessed), they have four wings, human hands, straight legs, and feet like a calf but made of polished brass (for real Ezekiel is a HEAD TRIP book--I listened to an audio version of it once after going to the dentist. that was fun :D)

 

The Cupid/Eros description of cherubs is a construct of Western art, which is what I'm assuming Milton was referencing but who knows, Milton COULD have been thinking of Ezekiel's four faced version. What the Bible does tell us about Lucifer is that he is one of three "named" (this is a contentious point, because while Isiah does use the word "lucifer" to describe Satan, that same word is used to describe others in the original text as well, including Jesus) angels (all assumed to be archangels, although, IIRC, only Michael is actually given that title) in the Bible, he was in charge of leading worship (a role usually for the seraphim) and that he was the most beautiful of all the angels. A modern, evangelical spin on Satan is that he's still beautiful on the outside because he is tempting humanity.

 

Okay, Bible nerd stuff out of the way :D, I do like the idea that Barnes is somehow representing Satan and Dafoe is Jesus or Michael, locked in a combat for Chris (stand in for Christ ;) ) soul.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

Platoon is a film that I've seen in chunks on cable when I was a kid, but had never committed to watching in its entirety. Full disclosure: not a big Oliver Stone fan. After finally watching it, my assessment is that it's a pretty okay war film, but I honestly don't understand why it's so highly regarded. I was intrigued by Amy's comments about Born on the Fourth of July being a superior film, but largely being ignored because it came out in the wake of Platoon's many accolades, and I'm now looking forward to viewing yet another Stone film I've ignored over the years. In my opinion, this one's a good candidate for removal from the list if the AFI ever gets around to doing so.

Share this post


Link to post

The Cupid/Eros description of cherubs is a construct of Western art, which is what I'm assuming Milton was referencing but who knows, Milton COULD have been thinking of Ezekiel's four faced version. What the Bible does tell us about Lucifer is that he is one of three "named" (this is a contentious point, because while Isiah does use the word "lucifer" to describe Satan, that same word is used to describe others in the original text as well, including Jesus) angels (all assumed to be archangels, although, IIRC, only Michael is actually given that title) in the Bible, he was in charge of leading worship (a role usually for the seraphim) and that he was the most beautiful of all the angels. A modern, evangelical spin on Satan is that he's still beautiful on the outside because he is tempting humanity.

Well, Milton was both a post-Renaissance poet (so he would've seen many chubby-cheeked renderings) and an Angelican priest-in-training (so he probably would've been familiar with the passages you cite), so you're right -- who knows?

 

If you're really a Bible nerd, may I recommend Elaine Pagels' The Origins of Satan? Great read. She documents extensively the traditional Jewish origins of "the satan" not as an enemy of God, but as a servant and agent of God whose who purpose was to try to catch His people slipping. For example, he was responsible for the incident of Balaam's donkey, and he would've been the one to wager with God over Job. Pagels' overall claim is that our modern idea of Satan is a wholly political phenomenon ... after Christ, various groups of his followers formed, and some of them engaged in propaganda campaigns where they would use the imagery of "satan" to refer to each other. Pagels wrote a couple of books on the Gnostics, which were a separate group of Christ's followers who had their own gospels and rites, and were seen as a threat by those who followed Paul.

 

Point is, I think we're always invited to view every antagonist and adversary in terms of The Ultimate Adversary, and war movies make that particularly easy because war is total Hell, and anyone who could possibly thrive in such an environment must have a little of that hell in him. That's also the most unflattering part of Platoon, because Barnes is so clearly the ravenously self-righteous yet ignorantly destructive side of America that, deep down, doesn't really care about doing good as much as it cares about being in control. "Better to reign in hell," and so forth.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I was in my mid-20s when Platoon came out. It was marketed as the first Vietnam War movie told realistically from an infantryman’s point of view, and the media tended to focus on Stone’s experience in the actual war. As several others wrote above, the film did seem to open up a lot of reflection on Vietnam in popular media. I think it was viewed as a game-changing movie when it was released, which may partly account for it being on the AFI list.

 

I think the thematic elements overlap a lot with Full Metal Jacket, though Krubrik uses a lot more dark humor in FMJ. The idea of the price young people pay when trained as soldiers and then put into war. The idea of man’s duel nature - like Joker writing Born to Kill on his helmet, but putting a peace sign on his body armor.

Share this post


Link to post

Well, Milton was both a post-Renaissance poet (so he would've seen many chubby-cheeked renderings) and an Angelican priest-in-training (so he probably would've been familiar with the passages you cite), so you're right -- who knows?

 

If you're really a Bible nerd, may I recommend Elaine Pagels' The Origins of Satan? Great read. She documents extensively the traditional Jewish origins of "the satan" not as an enemy of God, but as a servant and agent of God whose who purpose was to try to catch His people slipping. For example, he was responsible for the incident of Balaam's donkey, and he would've been the one to wager with God over Job. Pagels' overall claim is that our modern idea of Satan is a wholly political phenomenon ... after Christ, various groups of his followers formed, and some of them engaged in propaganda campaigns where they would use the imagery of "satan" to refer to each other. Pagels wrote a couple of books on the Gnostics, which were a separate group of Christ's followers who had their own gospels and rites, and were seen as a threat by those who followed Paul.

 

I second this suggestion. Elaine Pagels is a fascinating writer and her arguments are well-researched and compelling.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks for the suggestion! I've got a trip to North Carolina coming up next week (don't know how active I'll be on the forums that week, but if anyone is in the Raleigh/Fayetteville area, I'm going to be attending Raleigh Super-Con and am up for a sit down, drinks, geek about movies) so I've been looking for something to read on the airplane/airport/airplane/train station/train part of my trip

Share this post


Link to post

Dale Dye did an even longer interview with Matt Gourley on I Was There Too and it's a great interview and he goes deeper into Platoon (and other movies he did). Definitely worth a listen.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×