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Hiep Thi Le,
Tommy Lee Jones,
Haing S. Ngor
The biography of Ron Kovic. Paralyzed in the Vietnam war, he becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for. Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
The scenes of Tom Cruise in a bar in Mexico were actually shot in a town in Northern Philippines called "Vigan". Vigan is a UNESCO heritage site for its colonial historic houses and cobbled streets. See more »
When Ron visits the family of the man he accidentally killed in Vietnam, the chair swing is broken. When he comes out of the house moments later, the swing is fixed. See more »
'There was another war waiting for the soldiers when they returned home.'
When asked why he wanted to make another film about Vietnam after the success of 'Platoon,' Oliver Stone is quoted as saying, 'There was another war waiting for the soldiers when they returned home.' Indeed, he was right. 'Born On the Fourth Of July,' based on the book by Ron Kovic, follows Kovic's account of his experiences in Vietnam and the indifferent nation that he returned to. Although released in 1989, it holds up to the current situation that exists in Iraq now-many refer to it as the new Vietnam. Regardless of anyone's opinion on the current Iraq war, 'Born On the Fourth of July' is one of the most affecting, and important war related films of all time.
As the film opens, we find a young Kovic pretending to be a soldier with friends-a time when the idea of being a soldier was heroic since their father's had been heroes in WWII. The film then follows Kovic as a popular athlete in high school up to his recruitment as a Marine. Kovic rationalizes his reasons for joining up as Communists have missiles pointed at us now and we have to save our country from its threats.
During his time in Vietnam, Kovic sees the true nature of war. His platoon mistakenly fires upon a town where the enemy is supposedly hiding; however, they end up killing women and children. During the confusion that follows, Kovic accidentally shoots a fellow soldier-his guilt would encompass him for years to come. But when Kovic himself is wounded in a field, he is sent home paralyzed from the waist down. He spends the first few months in a veteran hospital, which in this case, was a slum. The doctors inform him that he will never be able to use his legs again, and that he no longer has the ability to have children.
When he returns to his home, he realizes that the world has changed. People protest the war, sometimes protesting against the soldiers themselves. His own family is indifferent to the war, as are his old friends. In one scene, he is told by an old friend who has become successful as a fast food manager, 'people here-they don't give a s**t about the war! To them it's just a million miles away.'
Eventually becoming disillusioned by everything in his hometown, Kovic spends a great deal of time with other veterans like himself at a resort in Mexico. Later he becomes an activist-his first public activism took place at the 1972 Republican National Convention where he was televised for exposing the reality of what soldiers endured in Vietnam, but also on the reasons why we did not belong there in the first place.
'Born On the Fourth of July' spends a good deal of time focusing on the misplaced patriotism that the politicians spewed at the public to drum up support not only for Vietnam, but the Cold War, in general. The film shows this by Kovic's own mother constantly reminding her son that he was doing the right thing by going over there and fighting and that he was in God's hands. When Kovic returns home and his disillusionment grows, he gets drunk one night and yells at his mother, 'There is no God. There is only me in this chair for the rest of my life!'
The film does stand up today just as strong as ever. With soldiers returning home from Iraq, and the constant media attention of terrorist attacks over there and seeing our own soldiers ambushed all the time, those who fight now must feel the same anger and frustration that Kovic felt year ago. It does make one wonder, when will the politicians ever truly get it! ****
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