Since this was the memorial day holiday, lots of chnanels were showing war movies, and vietnam was an obvious focus: saw both Platoon and Apocalypse Now (certainly not for the first time)- probably amongst the best movies made on the vietnam war, by two very talented directors (Oliver Stone and Francis Ford Coppola respectivelY). not quite focused on the raw savagery of war (like say Saving Private Ryan), but trying to look more closely at the war, thepeople who fought the war (atleast from the american side), how they perceived it, and how the war affected them.
Platoon has a lot of young actors who went on to have successful careers later on (William Defoe, Charlie sheen, Johnny Depp ... Tom Berenger doesnt count since he cant quite be called 'successful'). the conflict between Sgt Elias (defoe) and Barnes (berenger) is superbly depicted.
Apocalypse Now stars another Sheen - this time martin sheen as captain willard headed out to cambodia to assasinate renegade colonel kurtz (marlon brando), whois supposed to have gone nuts. also featured in smaller parts are robert duvall, harrison ford, laurence fishburne and dennis hopper. the war has certainly changed kurtz, why is he the way he is ... and the interesting point to note is that even though willard thinks its pretty obvious, he doesnt quite knpw what to do once he finds colonel kurtz.
Both movies are 'Vietnam classics' and boast of a superb score and soundtrack. Platoon's Adagio for strings and Respect by Aretha Franklin are certainly highlights. Apocalypse Now is even better: the movie gets a stunning start with 'The End' by The Doors, with The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and my favorite 'The Ride of the Valkyries' composed by Wagner providing the backdrop to the superbly photographed helicopter assault sequence. Speaking of which, the movie boasts some spectacular visuals ... the river is always there ... providing the backdrop to the chaos and conflict. Both movies are a definite 'MUST-SEE'!
Other Vietnam movies include Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, Mel Gibson's We Were Soldiers, etc. The former focuses in the first half on boot camp for draftees ... while the latter is predominantly a masala movie ... not a bad one, but its outcome is predetermined. It focuses on the fighting ....
Vietnam has been a very defining moment in American history. And it has defined Hollywood too ... AMC's (American Movie Classics - the cable movie channel) Hollywood Vietnam is proof of that.