The True Story: Platoon

The True Story: Platoon

Watch on Videoweed: link

After watching Platoon I felt that I needed some more background information to better appreciate and understand the characters and events as I admit I’m not too familiar with the Vietnam/American war. This documentary was good for putting the film in context as it compares the events in the movie with Oliver Stone’s actual experiences when he fought in the war.

Points from documentary:

  • Oliver Stone enlisted in the U.S. army in 1967 and requested combat duty in Vietnam. He was placed near the Cambodian border and arrived at a time when the troops were demoralized, not fighting to win but merely to survive.
  • Stone wrote a draft of his experiences in 1969 but it was not until 1975 that he could really face his demons.
  • Chris Taylor is based on himself. Elias was based on a soldier he knew and ‘represented the rock and roll spirit’ of the troops with his underground and drugs.
  • Nobody wanted to get to know the new guy in the first 30 or 40 days as they were likely to die.
  • Contrary to what happened in the film, Oliver Stone did actually fall asleep during his first watch. He awoke to see the enemy troops and froze in fear.
  • Stone used the Philippine jungle as a stand-in.
  • Dale Dye trained the actors for two weeks in the jungle. They experienced first hand the exhaustion and stress of the environment and allowed them to stop acting as actors and start acting as a platoon.
  • The Viet Cong were relying on networks of tunnels to get around  the combat zone but these tunnels were a lot narrower than depicted in the movie.
  • It’s estimated that over 6000 US troops were killed by booby traps.

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