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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Platoon': A Momentous and Gritty Depiction of U.S. Army Forces Serving in the Vietnam War

Movie poster for Platoon (1986)

Platoon (1986) is a gritty and impactful portrayal of the harsh realities faced by American soldiers serving in the Vietnam War. The film's narrative delves into the brutal jungle combat waged between U.S. and Viet Cong forces, delivering a candid perspective on the challenges and dilemmas inherent in this historical conflict.

Beginning in 1967, the storyline follows Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen), an unseasoned U.S. Army recruit whose idealism is swiftly replaced with the grim truths of warfare. His platoon is divided between ruthless Staff Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger) and compassionate Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe)—their divergence underscoring the broader moral and psychological struggles at hand. As Taylor navigates the extremities of combat, he grapples with the contrasting influences of Barnes and Elias, each representing a disparate approach to survival and morality.

Written and directed by Oliver Stone (Wall Street, JFK) and based on his experience as a U.S. infantryman in Vietnam, Platoon vividly depicts the juxtaposition between the barbarity and humanity inherent in armed conflict. Berenger and Dafoe shine brightest as contrasting moral compasses for young Taylor, whose maturation becomes the cornerstone of Stone's story while providing a thought-provoking reflection of the theater of war.


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