Feedback on Presentation and Artifacts

We were trying to experiment with how our schematic would look visually but strayed too far from Phil Campbell’s designs.

Our schematic might have been more successful if we had of planned our time and given ourselves more time to illustrate the other character’s timelines e.g. I had suggested we represent the other characters with different coloured string that would weave around Suong’s and Bao’s journey and be tied at nails/pivot points that would represent important scenes (a simplified 3d map). However we ran out of time to do any more work.

Although our choice of colour was a result from our research into Vietnamese art, it looked very similar to some of the other teams’ schematics. The schematic for The Thin Red Line even had a similar colour separation for the threshold which reminded me of what the second years had reminded us about –  the first 20 or so ideas that a team has, every other team will probably have also.

Our other obvious problem was that we didn’t plan in advance to give ourselves enough time to rehearse the presentation and didn’t realise it would take so long to present.

Platoon Artifact and Schematic

For our artifact and schematic for Platoon we choose to focus on water buffalo as they’re a symbol of Vietnam. After creating the character spreadsheet we realised that much of the platoon are together for the movie and that the water buffalo would have more of an opportunity for creating off screen stories. When we got feedback from the second years in week 3 they also seemed to encourage this idea the most. We thought of creating a water buffalo skull for our first artifact as it ties in with our story and the eagle spattered from the bullet hole represents America. Kerry was an awesome ninja and crafted most of this with clay in a day according to the teams vision.

We designed our schematic around characters we created from a young Vietnamese girl and a water buffalo who appear in the movie. Bao is our buffalo and Suong is the young girl (Bao means protection in Vietnamese). We chose to follow Dan Harmon’s story structure and made our story/drawings physically circular/cycical. We choose burnt umber, yellow ochre and red because these were recurring colours in the Vietnamese art that we looked at. These also contrasted with the greens that dominated Platoon (contrasting American point of view) except for the village scene, where the platoon set fire to the straw houses, which is when Bao’s story takes place. We made the bottom half of the canvas darker to represent the world beyond the threshold.

Bao and Suong’s story:

  1. You: Bao and Suong are in their ordinary world, having a peaceful life in the village.
  2. Need: They see Chris and other American troops been flown into Vietnam above their village. They’re curious about the events transpiring in the distance.
  3. Go: Barnes’ and Red’s platoons entering the village represents crossing the threshold for our characters. The platoon begins to disrupt their lives.
  4. Search: Bao thinks he can protect everyone and fights the soldiers out of a sense of ego.
  5. Find: Bao is tied up and Suong is taken away by Lehrner. Bao’s meeting with the Goddess is the great revelation of realising what’s most important to him – Suong.
  6. Take: Elias frees Bao. This is where Bao must completely shed his ego/atone with father (the war world) in order to save Suong. Bao kills Lehrner and saves Suong.
  7. Return: Bunny kills Bao.
  8. Changed: Bao may have been killed but he was capable of change and, because of this, succeeded in saving Suong. The story comes full circle, back to the state of perfection in that Bao is present in spirit and is able to protect Suong. The cycle may begin again.

Platoon (1986) Character Spreadsheet

This is a link to the spreadsheet on my google drive:

Tasha Peelan, Oisin, Kerry and I watched Platoon together and took note of what all the characters were doing each scene during the movie. We then compiled all the information together onto a Google spreadsheet to see an overall picture of each character (the green boxes show their on-screen time). We tried exploring each character to see whose off screen story we could have the most fun with. Some of our ideas were:

  • Chris and Elias have an off-screen love story, causing much jealousy to Barnes. Tasha and Oisin believed there to be much potential here.
  • Vietnamese perspective: we considered charting the off screen stories of either the opposing NVA troops or the natives from the Vietnamese village.
  • Barnes’ failing marriage: We thought of explaining Barnes’ bitterness and anger by creating letters from Barnes’ home that would make him easier to empathise with.
  • Psycho Bunny: We thought of taking a look into Bunny’s mind as his character seems to become particularly twisted with the ‘freedoms of war’.
  • Lieutenant Wolfe: Wolfe acts very submissive and seems very ill suited for his position so we thought of creating correspondence home that would show the pressures from a high achieving father who is always disappointed with Wolfe.
  • Jungle animals: Animals appear a lot throughout the movie (snakes, ants, deer, leeches, birds) and we thought they’d provide an interesting neutral perspective on the war. This led us to thinking about the water buffalo as a character.

Schematic Sketches

I did some more sketches to try and brainstorm what the schematic could look like. The imagery I had in mind was the water buffalo, jungle landscapes, underground tunnels, bones, soldiers, the bloody path of war and duality. I was also thinking how/where the schematic could be laid out. I came across some Vietnamese hand painted screens and fans when searching their art and thought it might be cool if we designed a sequence across separate panels and maybe the schematic could follow a motion trail. The schematic journey could form a literal path of destruction across a map also or like we were saying we could recreate a tactics map from the war.

Vietnamese Water Buffalo Research

We’ve focused in a lot on the water buffalo in Platoon as a potentially interesting viewpoint to tell the story from. We found out a few facts about the buffalo that make it useful as a symbol also:

  • The water buffalo represents bravery, happiness and prosperity.
  • Even though it is not official, many Vietnamese people accept that water buffalo are the national animal of Vietnam. Buffalo play an important role in Vietnam’s agrarian economy and history; They have become a powerful symbol in their culture.
  • Not many people know that buffalo contributed to the success of the Vietnamese Revolution against foreign invaders. They are not only used to carry loads for farmers, but they also carried loaded carts of supplies for Vietnamese soldiers during the war. Buffalo were an undercover means of transport, they could walk on very poor roads, across bridges and rivers, and climb steep hills ,etc.

Information from:

Letters From Vietnam

Tasha Peelan found this gallery of letters from Vietnam that’s useful for an idea that we may/might not progress:

Kerry and I have been trying hard to steer Oisin and Tasha away from writing a fanfiction about the secret love affair between Elias and Chris. However one good idea did come from this concerning writing secret messages on various materials. These messages could be between platoons or other people (or creatures) affected by the war. This also relates to Kerry’s first idea about writing letters home for an artifact.

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.