Platoon (1986) Poster

(1986)

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10/10
"When I die, bury me upside-down, so the world can kiss my ass"
gigan-924 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A+ Undoubtedly one of the best war films ever made, if not one of the THE best films of all time. Where to begin with such a film? A lot of this goes to Oliver Stone, who actually served in the God-forsaken jungles of Vietnam. The film really brings to light the atrocities and pointlessness of the Vietnam War full force, all cleverly represented by the soldiers who fought these not so courageous and valor-filled battles.

The conflict is simple at a glance; Chris Taylor, played superbly by Charlie Sheen, is a young recruit who in a similar trait to the Civil War novel "The Red Bade of Courage" is naively eager to be a proud and loyal soldier fighting against Communism, as he believes, nobly. However, he soon finds that "the 'Nam" is nothing like he thought it would be. The Vietnam is portrayed as realistically as it will ever be here: as a chaotic, dark, and all to real nightmare. It is within this hell he realizes that there are only two ways to truly endure the war: Give into near animal instincts, discarding all morals and perspectives of decency or find ways to escape the war at least for short bursts. Taylor decides to choose the latter, but regardless the platoon is divided by these two choices, on one side being Barnes, who will let the war consume them completely. The other is Elias, who represents Taylor's last grasp to his humanity. Many choose one path and never turn away from it, despite the fact that many of these men will die regardless. The underlying conflict is how you spend those last remaining days, minutes, instances of life. And all along the Vietcong are just an outside force who the soldiers have no real chance of understanding or negotiating with , just one of the many hazards they will have to survive.

Tom Berenger is endlessly great as Barnes, and Willem Dafoe is no less stunning. Every performance is stunning and captures the very real fear of war. Among the many other stand out performances in this picture are Kevin Dillon as the sadistic Bunny, John C. McGinley as Sgt. O'Neill, Francesco Quinn as Rhah, Johnny Depp as Lerner, Forest Whitaker as Big Harold and Keith David as the unforgettable King. And the coup de grace, an unforgettable and heartbreaking score by the late Georges Delerue and Samuel Barber, such beautiful and yet clearly pained music. "Platoon" will never cease to be my favorite war flick ever.
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10/10
A Realistic Vietnam film Oliver's Stone's masterpiece
ivo-cobra814 October 2015
Platoon is a 1986 American war film written and directed by Oliver Stone one of the most strongest realistic anti war films of all time. It is one of the best Vietnam war films I have ever seen that won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1986 and best Director for Oliver Stone, as well as Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing. Stone's Vietnam film portrayed a real life human been on his point of view of the story telling that went on in his real life that he experienced after his tour of duty in Vietnam ended in 1968, Oliver Stone wrote a screenplay called Break: a semi-autobiographical account detailing his experiences and the life he was in Vietnam. The characters were portrayed more then a few soldiers they were portrayed more as a human been than been soldiers obeying an order.Platoon shows the Vietnam War was a big mistake, but being a fictional documentary on Vietnam is far from its purpose. It is one of my personal favorite war movies. I love this movie to death.

Those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again, to teach to others what we know, and to try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and meaning in this life.

In Platoon, Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) is a young, naive U.S. soldier who, upon his arrival to Vietnam, quickly discovers that he must do battle not only with the Viet Cong, but also with the gnawing fear, physical exhaustion and intense anger growing within him. While his two commanding officers draw a fine line between the war they wage against the enemy and the one they fight with each other, the conflict, chaos and hatred permeate Taylor, suffocating his realities and numbing his feelings to man's highest value... life.

Chris sees his platoon fragmented into two halves, each aligned with one of two men -- Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe) and Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger). Those two soldiers are really two positive good things to see in the film because it sets the viewer on the seat of the edge. They both have nominally the same enemy (Viet Cong), but, really, it doesn't take long to realize that Elias is Good, and Barnes is Evil (the "enemy" does not enter into the moral equation of this film, at all it's an outside threat, same as malaria-carrying mosquitoes or even friendly fire). Elias feels the futility of the war and has respect for life; Barnes fights the war doggedly and has no compassion, period. Both are efficient soldiers fighting the same enemy, but really as is at one point aptly put by Chris Taylor himself,they are fighting for the souls of the platoon members, as the outcome of the war is never really in doubt.

The platoon reaches the village, where a food and weapons cache is discovered. While questioning the village chief, Barnes loses his patience and senselessly kills the man's wife despite his denials that they are aiding the Viet Cong. Barnes is about to murder the man's young daughter to force him to tell them to where the enemy is.

Elias doesn't take kindly to this kind of behavior. Elias and Barnes come closer and closer to open conflict, as Taylor becomes a veteran, obviously siding with Elias. Meanwhile, the fate of the platoon comes closer and closer to them, culminating in an explosively shot action conclusion. The end is dark, but morally satisfying.

Platoon is a legendary film. A film that I will always cherish, and a film that I will never get tired of. And the last Vietnam film worth a damn to watch. There isn't any War film today that was filmed as really human drama war today in 2015. It respectively represents the very essence of purposefully haunting powerful cinematography in the history.-- It is representing admirable cinematic craftsmanship and storytelling. A film that is sometimes impossible to watch for its frighteningly intense and emotionally draining account of the Vietnam War as it is waged both on the battlefields and within the very souls of men.

The best real human drama portrayed on screen anti-war film in Vietnam from the 80's, It is my favorite film that I will always love to death to see. I also don't watch this film for an action ; I actually see it for the war and how it everything was, what is more valuable and it is life: The film also have a message in it. The actors portraying the characters did make a believable performance as the real team of squad soldier fighting the Enemy the Viet Cong.

The battles with Viet-Cong are shown realistic mostly on the end of the final battle. 10/10
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9/10
within Vietnam and beyond
red_core8 May 2004
Platoon is generally regarded as one of the strongest anti-war films of all time. While this is certainly true, what's often overlooked -- at least after only one run through the film -- is that it's chiefly a tale of God vs. Satan, and the war is there to set a perilous backdrop. No doubt, Platoon shows the Vietnam War was a big mistake, but being a fictional documentary on Vietnam is far from its purpose.

The story is told from the point of view of Chris Taylor (solidly played by Charlie Sheen), a middle class kid who goes to Vietnam to do what he thinks is his patriotic duty. In the first ten minutes, Chris is shown in the uncomfortable jungle, struggling just to survive in the natural environment, let alone do any actual damage to the enemy. Quickly we're introduced to the well-known facets of the Vietnam War: The lack of sense of purpose, the wraith-like enemies, the obvious prevalence of the uneducated and poor among the fighting grunts -- and, soon, we see how these factors combine to cause widespread low morale and some actions of more than questionable ethical value.

Chris sees his platoon fragmented into two halves, each aligned with one of two men -- Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe) and Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger). These two really are the driving force behind the film. They both have nominally the same enemy (the Viet Cong), but, really, it doesn't take long to realize that Elias is Good, and Barnes is Evil (the "enemy" does not enter into the moral equation of this film, at all -- it's an outside threat, same as malaria-carrying mosquitoes or even friendly fire). I won't deny it is a very black-vesus-white relationship, but this polarity does not feel contrived. Elias feels the futility of the war and has respect for life; Barnes fights the war doggedly and has no compassion, period. Both are efficient soldiers fighting the same enemy, but really -- as is at one point aptly put by Chris Taylor himself -- they are fighting for the souls of the platoon members, as the outcome of the war is never really in doubt.

Elias/Barnes' hold on the platoon, and the viewer, is developed through several war sequences. A chilling scene takes place in a village, where our soldiers find no VC, but they do find a cache of VC weapons. The inhumanity of certain soldiers, including of Sgt. Barnes, is unflinchingly shown here. It leaves the viewer with an empty feeling that is hard to shake, reminding of the similarly empty look on a woman's face after she sees her son killed in front her.

Elias doesn't take kindly to this kind of behavior. Elias and Barnes come closer and closer to open conflict, as Taylor becomes a veteran, obviously siding with Elias. Meanwhile, the fate of the platoon comes closer and closer to them, culminating in an explosively shot action conclusion. The end is dark, but morally satisfying.

Don't watch this movie for the action. That's not to say it's not well shot, or unrealistic. On the contrary. It's quite convincing. But it doesn't show war as a fun sport, and it's never a question of good guys versus bad guys. There will be no cheering for the "good guys" or anyone else in this one. Stone succeeds brilliantly at putting the viewer into the middle of it all, and it's not a pretty sigh (and definitely not for the squeamish, either).

On the other hand, if you want great acting, it's here. Dafoe and Berenger do incredibly well, with the incredibly good (and seemingly authentically sounding) script. Barnes is horrific as he challenges three men to kill him, drinking hard liquor out of the bottle. They don't make a move, and neither will you, though you'll hate him just as much as them. Dafoe is a ray of light in the dark as Elias. The cast is rounded out with many characters, all well played, and adding another dimension to the film.

The technical aspects of the film are superb, though one never thinks about them much, as the movie is completely engrossing. The production values seem quite good, as well. The most stunning peripheral aspect of this film, however, is the music. It's emotional and draining, and used to great effect -- listen for the main theme as you watch the village burn.

Watch this one a few times, and you'll likely be quite moved each time. I'll be surprised if you give it less than what I gave it: 9/10
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10/10
Hell is the impossibility of reason
alifanova10 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Why I think Platoon is probably the best war movie Hollywood ever made? Because it's very humane. I mean it. The director sees all his characters as victims of war rather than heroes or villains. Have a closer look at 'em.

Taylor has no power inside himself and is torn between the two fathers; he ends up with a physical act of revenge. This is not what one father taught him - and the other father is actually murdered by him.

Sgt. Barnes would never fit the postwar life and knew it damn too well himself; after all, he is not a fool although might seem a senseless killing machine at first sight. Vietnamese bullets could not kill him, his talent for survival being his enemy. So, he attempts kinda suicide twice (at least) begging others to kill him and thus end the pain tearing him from inside: first, in the potheads' bunker scene after Taylor's accusations; then, when Taylor finds him in the final scene.

Sgt. Elias was far too good to survive the Nam and maybe even challenged and annoyed lifers on purpose, waiting for some bob barnes to hit back :) It's a pity Stone excluded the stars' scene monologue which explains pretty much about Elias' ways and view of the future. In fact, for himself he sees no future. Not in this world that is all about betrayal and killing.

Bunny and Junior, one the embodiment of somewhat sadistic bravery and the other of cowardice. Their deaths are partly a morality, partly to show that it does not matter if you're black or white, brave or cowardly, war makes no difference wiping off everyone it can.

King, Big Harold, Francis are survivors yet victims, too. What is awaiting them in the "real" world where nobody understands and nobody respects anything? They are dreaming of a comeback to music, girlfriends, fun time - but reality bites, and who knows, will they find their spot under the sun or will be forced to use the skills obtained in the Nam and get engaged in crime and drug abuse?

Red O'Neill talking about his ability to predict if a guy is gonna make it or not. A reflection of his own fears: shall I stay alive and get out of here or not. The odds are that he is not, and Stone nails him to the place with Captain's order to take over what was once the Platoon... Bye Patsy.

The idea that Stone has been trying to bring forward to us is NOT (to my mind) a story of struggle between the good and the bad for the possession of Taylor's soul (remember, the boy became a murderer in the end), but: where is war there can be no escape. Leave hope everyone who enters.

Highest rate ever for that.
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Perfection... or as close to it as we're ever likely to see
blinkchester28 April 2004
Its hard to know where to start with such a breathtaking film. Oliver Stone's Platoon is quite simply the best Vietnam war film ever made in my opinion. Everything about it is as close to perfection as we are likely to see. Charlie Sheen plays the lead, and Willem Defoe and Tom Berenger play the two sergeants that form a key part of the plot.

Chris Taylor (Sheen) is torn between the sergeants. Barnes (Berenger) is the battle hardened, brutal murderer, who uses the war as an excuse to tender to his sadistic pleasures. Elias (Defoe) is the other side of the spectrum. We get the sense that he has wrestled with his inner demons, but he has successfully come through to the other side. He has compassion for his fellow man, and he uses drugs as a form of escapism from this brutal war. The two symbolise the struggle that Taylor must face if he is to survive out in Vietnam.

Oliver Stone perfectly captures war. The shooting is frantic and impossible to follow. It perfectly disorientates us, just as the soldiers were. We have no idea who is being shot at, and neither do they. We follow the war at ground level, and see the brutalities first hand. Having served in Vietnam, the film is loosely based on Stone's time out there, and Taylor loosely based on himself.

Full Metal Jacket showcases how inhumane the war was, Apocalypse Now turns it into a story about life in general, and hopelessness, but Platoon has everything. Trying hard to avoid the old cliché, but if you only watch one war film, make sure it is this one. Nothing else can come close.
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Uncomfortable but very worthy view of war's impact on the young
bob the moo3 July 2002
At the height of the Vietnam War, America's teens are drafted into the war effort to find themselves in the middle of hell. One such young man is Chris Taylor. He is placed in a squadron where two sergeants have different approaches to the war – Elias is more about surviving without being brutal or cruel, whereas Barnes is crueller, more ruthless and more violent. During the course of his term, Taylor's very soul is torn between the two men as he deals with what he must do.

The first film in Oliver Stone's unofficial trilogy is arguably the best of the three. The basic story not only shows us what the war was like for those serving but also how the different personalities come out of those involved in it. As we follow Taylor we see him change as he is influenced by those around him and by his situation. It makes for an uncomfortable film but one that's worth watching. It's certainly a better war movie than things like Wild Geese or The Dirty Dozen, simply because it's a little more real to what happens than those ones.

Charlie Sheen has never been better than when he's acting for Stone. Here he gives one of his best ever performances as the innocent who is changed. Willem Dafoe is a great actor and here is no different – he also gives us one of the film's most enduring images so I'm a little biased. Berenger is another one for whom it's hard to think of a higher point reached than when he did this film. He is brutal and ruthless but he makes us support him in a strange way. The support cast are all good and contains a few famous faces (John C McGinley, Whitaker, Depp) however this is really a three man show.

Overall this is brutal and violent with no happy ending. At the end of the day isn't that what a war film should be?
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10/10
Hurtful
hhalukkilic15 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I watched Platoon when I was 17 at 1987. I was on the edge of questioning everything and ready to uprise with a small move. Of course I was fascinated after watching the movie and I remember I was that close to cry. I can definitely say Platoon is one of the best war movies of the history. It has many incredible scenes and it reserves a great story of brotherhood inside also vandalism and senseless of war. Charlie Sheen , William Dafoe and the great Tom Berenger can easily be considered as one the best combination of actors to tell a story of faith and betrayal in a movie. Oliver Stone did a great job as writer and director. I remember that I was really touched with the letters that Taylor ( Charlie Sheen ) writes to his grandma. Also with the amazing music of the film you feel many different things. I believe that on the last scene the picture of William Dafoe with his hands open on his knees with hundreds Viet Congs coming after him is a masterpiece work and unforgettable.I watched this movie at Osmanbey Gazi movie theater at Osmanbey-Istanbul and ı believe 70's and 80's are the best time in Istanbul for watching a movie with big saloons and with great atmosphere. With 90's big movie theaters started to turn to couple of small saloons and with shopping malls movie theaters started to locate at malls. I really miss a lot of 80's and the taste I get from the legend movie theaters like Osmanbey Site-Sisli Kent-Osmanbey Gazi- Pangaltı Inci-Harbiye Konak and Harbiye As.
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9/10
One Of The Best Movies Of The 1980s
Theo Robertson3 September 2003
The 1980s in general and the mid 1980s in particular aren't highly regarded where pop culture is concerned , this is most especially true in cinema where films seemed to be written around their soundtrack in much the same way as Hollywood movies nowadays seem to be written around their special effects . PLATOON is one of the very few films from that period that has an emotional impact , an impact that it still retains while watching it in 2003.

Everyone else seems to have mentioned what makes PLATOON a classic anti-war ( Note it's anti-war , not anti American or anti soldier ) movie along with being a classic movie , so I won't go over old ground except to say THAT death scene is up there with all the other tear jerking scenes from 20th century cinema , don't be ashamed to say you cried

If PLATOON has a flaw it's in its duality , there's the good Sarge/bad Sarge , good officer/bad officer , good white guy/bad white guy , good black guy/bad black boy etc which is maybe a bit clichéd and possibly leads me to believe Stone is making an excuse/reason that the Americans lost in Vietnam because that spent so much fighting each other rather than the VC ( Though I do concede I'm possibly misinterpreting that as an excuse or even a reason since no one will confuse the politics of Stone with the politics of John Wayne ) while Taylor's character comes across as being more of a literary device rather than a real human being , but these are minor flaws

It's a shame to see war films from the last few years devoid of scathing anti-war sentiments like the ones seen here . PLATOON screams at you " War is hell and whatever the rights and wrongs of conflict you need a bloody good reason to wage war . Vietnam wasn't a good enough reason to sacrifice human lives "
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10/10
One of Oliver Stone's best films
Vogue18921 July 2001
Platoon left me absolutely numb after watching it. Oliver Stone,(Who in fact did serve in Vietnam) did a fantastic job telling this story of the horrors and the insanity of the Vietnam war. What's to be admired about this film, is that Stone doesn't sweet-talk the story, with the good old American boys fighting for their country and facing brutality, instead he brings up a strong morality and humanity issue. It's wasn't all black and white, it wasn't one person was wrong, one was right, there was all shades of gray in between. He uses the characters of Sergeant Barnes and Sergeant Elias (both played brilliantly) as symbols of good and evil clashing into one another. Charlie Sheen (Chris, the narrator of the story) is in a sense torn between both, they are both a part of him as he tries to deal with things falling apart all around him. Vietnam was a senseless war, and Platoon tries to understand why we went through it and how we ever got through it.
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10/10
Best Vietnam War movie you can see
brown30122 January 2005
Platoon is a must see for any fan of war movies. The film that put Stone on the map, Platoon is considered by Vietnam Vets as the most realistic (my father having been one of them). But in keeping the maxim of giving credit where credit is due, much of the success of Platoon belongs to military adviser Captain Dale Dye, who has been linked to pretty much every great war movie in the last twenty years. Much accolades to Tom Berenger as well, whose performance as Sgt. Barnes is the tour de force of his career (the scene in the village towards the end of the movie is brutal, befitting the character). With a great script, great performances, and awesome cinematography, Platoon is a surefire classic.
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8/10
Visceral and violent war film by Oliver Stone based on his own soldier experiences in Vietnam
ma-cortes7 October 2017
A very strong and tough Vietnam war film made by Oliver Stone who has directed his film in the form of Patrol Drama , a formula much beloved by filmmakers of Hollywood , War and western movies , and revived successfully by this great director . As a shy soldier , Charlie Sheen in the lead , arrives as a rookie in a veteran platoon led by two very different sergeants , the good boy : Willem Defoe , and the bad guy : Tom Berenger. They are accompanied by a motley group of soldiers as John G. Mcginley , Kevin Dillon , Tony Todd , Francesco Quinn , all of them are resplendent , among others.

A Grunt's view of the Vietnam war is provided in all terrible , bloody and violent detail . Blundering and interesting Vietnam war film pre-dating the flood of the eighties and early nineties . It describes a pretty crude portrayal of America's thunderous days in Vietnam . Including a realist and thought-provoking dialog plenty of profanities , bad taste , sexual remarks and dealing with foreign intervention . Wooden acting by Charlie Sheen as naive soldier , it made a star out of Sheen and Stone cast him in his followup film : Wall Street . Charlie Sheen is the central figure in this exciting story through whose shell-shocked eyes we watch the violent events , slaughters , crossfires and atrocities. But here stand out Dafoe and Berenguer , both are top-notch as , respectively , the good and bad sergeants . Support cast is frankly excellent , as you will spot stars and prestigious secondaries in waiting as Johnny Depp , Forest Whitaker , Mark Moses , Tony Todd , Dale Dye and Kevin Dillon brother of Matt Dillon . And brief cameo by Oliver Stone himself . Bloody final reflects the bitterness and disillusion felt by most Americans about Vietnam war .

Colorful and evocative cinematography by Robert Richardson . Perceptible and sensitive score by George Delerue , adding the famous adagio by Samuel Barber . Very good and graphic violent direction from Oliver stone who based the movie on his own GI experiences . It won Oscars for best picture , edition , sound and best director , being highly considered ; that's why it is deemed by many to be the most realistic and violent portrayal of the war on movie . It forms a trilogy about Vietnam along with ¨Born on the fourth of July¨ and ¨Heaven and Earth¨ directed splendidly by the fearless Oliver Stone . He gives a sour description about Vietnam war , a brutal vision of the conflict as witnessed first hand by the ordinary foot soldiers or Grunts.
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8/10
An illuminating expose on the long-lasting, personality-changing effects of the military and war...
WhimsicalVonia10 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I don't usually like war movies, at all. Platoon was an unexpected exception. Oliver Stone's first of three Vietnam War films, for me it really came down to an educational expose of the psychological trauma unique to war. With an all-star ensemble cast, the performances were exceptional. From what I have read, this can be attributed to training from a retired Marines Captain as well as director Oliver Stone's personal history as a Vietnam soldier. I believe Platoon to be an accurate representation of war on a micro scale, but not a macro one- any and all of these events could have and probably did happen at some time during the war, but it is unlikely that this much could happen between such a small number of men in such a short amount of time. The protagonist is played by none other than a young Charlie Sheen at his prime. Taylor's words of wisdom throughout the film are a testament to the long lasting effects of war. Veterans have a stereotype personality: more often than not, someone more logical than emotional; a lover of order, rules, and regimen; individuals willing to sacrifice for the greater good; a cool, collected, logical decision maker and leader even under high-pressure circumstances. As with all stereotypes, it is rooted in truth. Studies have shown that individuals attracted to the military tend to, overall, be a little less agreeable, extroverted, and friendly than those who do not seek it out. One study in particular finds them to be "more aggressive", "interested in competition rather than cooperation", and "less concerned about the feelings of others". These particular personality traits, whereas obviously not so great for romantic relationships or for forming lasting friendships, are often an asset in career success. For example, these individuals are more likely to make the difficult decisions sometimes necessary for success.

Psychologists claim that our personalities do not change dramatically over the course of our lifetime. Interestingly, the military is one of the only exceptions to this, as various research has shown. An exception, though, that couldn't be more understandable. After all, what one experience is more immersive, uncompromising, and invasive? A prominent aim of military training is to disseminate your preconceptions, views, and outlook of the "outside" world. They want to, literally, break you down and build you back up as a soldier. The aggression, the rules, the logical coolness of higher-ranking officials? Not only welcomed, but expected. If you cannot handle yourself under pressure, cannot brace yourself for both physical and emotional war, you will not survive training, let alone deployment. Ironic, then, isn't it, that once a soldier signs his/her contract, they are bound to their word for the next several years? What if he realizes he is too sensitive? She realizes she hasn't the strength, either emotionally and/or physically? At some point, it's just too damn bad. In this way, individuals are often forced into an extreme situation; unexpected, life-altering, and personality-changing.

After the all-immersive experience of military training, an individual has had to harden themselves even more; close off their emotions in order to endure trying physical tests and emotional assault from all angles. And if they are chosen to actually go to war? Well, I am certain that the personality shift will only be that much more ingrained. Once they return home, it's easier said than done to just smoothly transition back to who they once were, how they once responded and reacted to life. And Taylor is no exception to this.

It has been a while since I felt so moved watching a film, in both positive and negative ways. Scenes depicting the cold, ruthless killing of others, friend or foe. Empathizing with soldiers wishing to be killed or injured in order to be sent home. Taylor trying to save some young Vietnamese girls from being raped by his own men. Imagining the psychological trauma of watching people you yelled at yesterday, got high with last night, bonded with this morning, die in your arms. The palpable loneliness of these men, writing home to their loved ones, or even as they vie for the any emotionless type of physical intimacy. Watching Taylor transform from a positive, optimistic young man wanting to do the right thing for his country into an old soul, enervated and jaded, murder becoming a daily occurrence rather than the unbelievable nightmare it should always be. In the penultimate scene before he is rescued, Taylor serving personal justice in taking the life of the heartless Staff Sargent Barnes.

So, I wonder, is it any surprise that soldiers return home that much more emotionally closed off, their minds almost accustomed to the idea of everyday trauma and constant panic, with an inability to open themselves up to others or allow themselves to succumb to emotional weakness?
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10/10
Still my favorite film
bzb200113 March 2003
Every once in a while I will watch this film again and see if maybe I have grown tired of it. Surely after "Saving Private Ryan," "Titanic," "Crimes and Misdemeanors," or "Schindler's List" I have seen a better film. Well, after every viewing there is something about Oliver Stone's masterpiece that keeps me saying that I have never seen anything better.

I am a sucker for Vietnam pictures. "Apocalypse Now" and "The Deer Hunter" also rank in my top ten of all time. Stories about Vietnam can run the entire gambit of human emotions. "Platoon" is not only a documentation of America's sordid involvement in a foreign civil war, it is also a dramatic story of human response. A life developing in the most horrible of places.

There have been films put together better. There have been films with more detailed and interesting plots. But none have ever told a more touching story of human development set in the backdrop of bloody violence and inhuman suffering.

Rating: 10 out of 10.
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9/10
Not just surface Violence (see book Tropic Thunder, Red Lightning)
rex-1017 July 2002
I may be over analyzing the film. It certainly appears at first glance that other than the deer appearing after the battle, and the talk of soul in Chris's/Charlie Sheen's final narration there is very little symbolism in the film… basically every thing is what it is.

However, I believe that even if Mr. Stone didn't intend it, the fact that Chris picks up an AK-47 to kill SSGT Barnes is important. There are weapons (and bodies) all over the battlefield but he picks up the AK-47. It must be noted that the Armalite Rifle or M-16 as it became known had become the weapon of the ARVN forces and the US troops (and is still the primary issue for US forces today.) This weapon then, represents the `establishment' or the status quo power. The silhouette of an AK-47 on the other hand, had come to represent revolution the whole world over. Chris's use of the AK-47 was not to hide the fact that Barnes was killed by an M-16, as Bergerud's book points out, ‘friendly fire' casualties were a fact of life in Vietnam.

When I combine the integrated `potheads' dancing to ‘tracks of my tears,' I wonder if the tears are related to the civil rights struggle back home. Taylor's `I volunteered' speech when he gives his reasons that it shouldn't just be black kids and poor kids doing the ‘s**t jobs' also add to my belief that the AK-47 is relevant as a taking up the opposition to fight the establishment. Barnes also represented the `lifer' or career military and from there one can extrapolate that to include the Pentagon establishment who tenaciously clung to the belief in some kind of victory in spite of evidence that the population rejected the Saigon government could be had. By killing Barnes, it seems Oliver Stone might shed a different light on the comments Chris Taylor/Charlie Sheen makes at after the rampage at the village and the divisiveness it brought the platoon: `…I can't believe we're fighting each other when we should be fighting them!' In this view the ‘Them' could be the establishment that created a world in which a Vietnam could take place. His platitudes at the end don't dissuade me from seeing Chris Taylor (as Oliver Stone) having undergone a personal sea change. `We didn't fight the enemy we fought ourselves…'

Stone could very well express these sentiments, `The war is over for me now… but it will always be there the rest of my days… as I am sure Elias will be fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called the possession of my soul... Those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again and try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and meaning to this life.' `…To teach others what we know…'

This obligation statement is almost a verbatim reprise of the defeated Japanese soldiers in the movie `The Burmese Harp' (1956.) They say the same thing about a duty to go home and rebuild after the war, though there isn't a statement accepting or even acknowledging any wrongdoing. Thirty years separate these films. I would not exactly say they claim ‘war is senseless,' though they both overwhelm the viewer with the senseless waste of lives caused by war.

Other points of note: when we see the APC (armored personnel carrier) roll up behind the patrol looking for survivors after the battle, there is a Nazi flag on the top of it (it is very close to the top of the screen and hard to make out, and is not the typical hakenkruz on the white circle in a red field, but the one that was meant to express a ‘pan-Aryanism' with the Scandinavian people by having a red field with a black cross outlined by a white cross and the swastika in the crux.) Is Stone implying a fascist nature to this war?

Secondly, we briefly see the men who are the despicable `ear collectors' I had read about in a 1981 book called `Nam.' They would string the ears on their dog-tag necklace as a show of bravado of how many ‘confirmed kills' they had. (Though there are some interesting perspectives brought out by ‘Nam' much of that book reads like war crimes…)

The shot of the lynched soldier was a strange inclusion, considering the Blacks marching against the war at home carrying a banner that stated, `The VC never called me a nigger'. I wondered why Stone did that. Furthermore, except for a glimpse at a suspected VC in the tunnel shot by Elias, we never actually see a VC in the film. The person shot by Elias is not attacking. We see their tunnels, the arms caches, their posts, campsites and bunkers. It's always only hints of them. The only Vietnamese we see attacking are NVA regulars. Is this saying Stone does not blame the popular Front forces for attacks on US troops?

`Gook' is also used through out the film, as it was in Vietnam. This word entered the GI lexicon through the Korean War. ‘Han Gook' is Korean for Korea/Korean. The Korean's would see the American's and say `Mi Gook' which is Korean for America/American. The GI's thought the Koreans were saying they were ‘gooks' Me Gook. The carrying of the word from Korea to Vietnam shows the tendency of latent dehumanizing racism ‘they all look alike'…

Speaking of Human, David Lynch, the director of The Elephant Man (1980) was furious that Stone used Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings since he had used it in his film and hoped when people heard it they would reflect on it. He must have sensed that people are now more likely to associate Adagio with the ‘Elias crucified' scene. However, there is another connection to the Elephant Man. Think of Taylor stopping the gang rape. The GI's respond, `she's an animal!' to which Chris shouts back, `She's a HUMAN BEING, man… a human being! This is an echo of John Hurt's line in Elephant Man, `I am not an animal! I am a human being! I...am...a man!'

There are a few more interesting points worth comment, but I will close by mentioning the suicide attack. Stone himself was the actor playing the Battalion Commander in the bunker that suffered the suicide attack. It is interesting that In response to the suicide attack, Captain Harris, the Company Commander calls in an air strike right on his own position. In other words it is as though he answered the suicide attack with a suicide attack. This seems analogous to the continuing inflow of US troops to Vietnam as a suicide. I will leave it off here in hope that someone else discusses the intentional inflicting of wounds on oneself as a means to be sent home.
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8/10
Shows the harsh realities of war very effectively
Lt_Coffey_18223 January 2006
The Vietnam War has been one of the controversial wars in history and was an unpleasant experience for everyone involved. Oliver Stone harnessed these experiences to make Platoon; a film where he could illustrate to everyone what Vietnam was like from his perspective.

In my opinion, this is the best war movie ever made. The sheer horror of war is captured so well in everyway. The fear of death, compatriots dying, divisions in the platoon, guilt of killing; it's all there and Stone doesn't try to disguise it. Platoon is very honestly written and it is this honesty that makes the film so great. Platoon isn't an anti war movie and it certainly does not glorify war in anyway, it is simply how war is in its entirety. There are some shocking scenes such as the one in the Vietnamese village but there are also more light hearted moments such as where the troops on Dafoe's side are partying and having a good time. On base camp, there is great contrast with the mood but on the forest, it is just fear, aggression and blood, nothing else.

Taylor's (Charlie Sheen) story is very good as he experiencing war at the same time of the audience. Before the war, he was a rich kid who loved his grandma and it is how war changes him that is truly fascinating. The character story that always receives most praise however is that between Barnes (Tom Berenger) and Elias (Willem Dafoe) is very compelling and leads to some great scenes with them and carves an interesting divide within the camp. This film is big on character and explores many relationships but (take note Jarhead) doesn't sacrifice any action time for these scenes. Stone struck a perfect balance between action and story.

Acting from everyone involved is very good. Sheen as the naïve newcomer is very good and after this, should have done much better for himself than he did. Dafoe and Berenger, once again steal the attention off the lead. Their extreme contrasting personalities is brilliantly done and raises the standard of the film. Berenger is truly terrifying, he didn't hold back in this one. Dafoe is much more sympathetic and will speak his mind to anyone. Johnny Depp makes one of his early film appearances with a small, yet memorable role. The way Sheen is wearing Depp's bandana after Lerner (Depp) gets taken by the chopper is discretely done but touching.

Platoon is the best war movie there's ever been. Stone wrote and directed this film with such passion that it couldn't be anything but good. A great mix of characters, a great cast and such well crafted action scenes are all what you need for an exceptional war movie and they're all here. The film ends perfectly as we are given a chance to reflect and take it in before the credits start rolling. Stone, who often misses the point with his films, hit the nail on the head with this one.
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8/10
Excellent look at Vietnam
Agent1015 May 2002
This certainly rates as one of the best Vietnam films of all time. What I especially enjoyed was the realistic atmosphere of the film, entrenching the viewer into a world which seems surreal yet believable. Oliver Stone's real-life experience in Vietnam brought a gifted outlook to this film, one drawn by experience, not common Hollywood conventions. While this proved be a lesser film to the equally amazing Full Metal Jacket, it was not by much. The performances by Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen and John C. McGinley were exceptional, capturing the plight of the tortured soldiers.
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8/10
Platoon focuses on the moral decay of the soldiers in the most unpopular war in modern American history
asifahsankhan2 February 2018
Many great war films of the Vietnam conflict are centered around these themes of blurred morality and the uselessness of war, and Oliver Stone's Platoon is among the most well known. Stone, who wrote and directed the film and also served as an infantryman in Vietnam, first rose to fame for his war films that dramatized the infamous Cold War conflict. The main premise of his magnum opus are the inner conflicts within US forces deployed to southeast Asia, rather than the actual physical conflicts between them and the Communist-allied Vietnamese forces. More broadly, Platoon analyzes the "duality of man" concept that has been studied in numerous other works, from fellow Vietnam War films like Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Apocalypse Now (1979), all the way back to the latter's source material and inspiration in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

Platoon focuses on the moral decay of soldiers in American units, and how this contributes to their inability to fight their Vietnamese enemies. Charlie Sheen sums up this theme with his on-the-nose voiceover, "We did not fight the enemy, we fought ourselves... and the enemy was in us."

Vietnam War-movies tend to be even harder to watch than most war flicks, as the lines between the "heroes" and "villains" are blurred more than in any other dramatized period of warfare in recent human history. In wars like World War II, which are widely known for being as black and white as military conflicts have become, the contrasting features between the heroic forces we are meant to root for and their opposing enemy platoons are well defined. That is almost never the case with the United States-North Vietnamese/Vietcong conflict in Vietnam during the overarching Cold War.

That is not to say that most wars throughout human history have not been many shades of grey, with the winners and losers not always corresponding with the righteous and evil. But because of the guerrilla nature and infamous legacy of the Vietnam War itself - namely, the immense public protest against American involvement - the Vietnam War remains by far the most unpopular war in modern American history. With that said, most of the film is fantastic, from the aforementioned narrative to the grim lightning of the southeast Asian jungles that emphasize the film's tone, to the poignant, melancholic score.
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9/10
Up there with Apocalypse Now and FMJ as one of the best films to depict the horrors of the Vietnam war...
pere-2536628 April 2017
... and for good reason! Platoon is a unique war film in that it almost plays out as more of a morality tale and the inner conflict that eats away at the insides of man rather than focusing primarily on the conflict with the enemies. In Stone's film, we are given in-depth examinations into both the atrocities of the war and those committed by the Staff Sergeant supposedly on the 'good side' of it all. Played to perfection by Tom Berenger. his terrifying portrayal of a heartless Sgt. becomes all the more frightening when contrasted with the compassionate, caring nature of Sgt. Elias, portrayed by William Dafoe. The film is unapologetically outspoken in its depiction of the horrors soldiers faced in the war and with razor-edged editing that nabbed Academy Award honors, it really does immerse you, almost uncomfortably so, in the hell these men endure. One of the best.
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9/10
Still packs a punch 30 years on
tomgillespie200227 October 2016
Ever since Steven Spielberg wowed the cinematic world and changed the aesthetic of the war movie forever with the exceptional opening 25 minutes of 1998's Saving Private Ryan - the film went downhill from there - audiences have come to expect the same grainy camera-work and ultra-realism of Spielberg's breathtaking vision whenever a battle is depicted. Anything else would be 'unrealistic', and many movies dated horribly almost overnight as a result. While Oliver Stone's Platoon, which was once considered difficult to watch due to its unflinching depiction of the insanity of war, may not seem quite as brutal as it used to, it possesses one thing that no war other movie can boast - the guiding hand of a veteran.

Stone did a tour in Vietnam which ended in 1968, changing the future writer/director forever. Starting out life as a screenplay focusing on a soldier's experiences both before and during the war which had Jim Morrison touted for the lead, it evolved into a movie focused solely on a young volunteer's time spent in the sweaty, eternally damp jungle. Charlie Sheen's Chris Taylor is an obvious stand-in for Stone, and he arrives fresh-faced and eager to fight for his country. By the end, he is dazed and confused, and angry at the country who would send such "bottom of the barrel" men - invisible in society - into a world of such horror and meaningless bloodshed. It's an experience that moulded Stone into the one of the most outspoken voices in cinema.

The casting of the two sergeants vying for Chris' soul is a stroke of genius. The platoon is made up of two main groups - the 'juicers', a collection of beer-swilling meat-heads seemingly intent on violence at every opportunity, and the 'heads', a more laid-back and weary bunch who are happiest when getting high and having a singalong. At the head of the juicers is Sgt. Barnes, played by Tom Berenger, an actor known for his heart-throb leading-man roles but here cast as a dead-eyed, heavily scarred brute. While Willem Dafoe, who was and still is known for his crazy-eyed villainous roles, plays the wiser, gentler leader of the heads, an all-round good guy battling his own demons. By toying with expectations, Stone adds layers to their characters, and they both received Best Actor nominations for their efforts.

Yet what makes Platoon truly stand out 30 years after its release is the way Stone manages to transport the audience to that terrible place. It's teeming with dangers at every turn, be it the ants, the snakes or the Viet Cong better equipped for the harsh surroundings, the most frightening moment is when they fall asleep. And even when they awake, there's something moving in the shadows. The film never allows you to ever be at ease, despite the fun to be had with spotting the many famous faces dotted throughout the supporting cast. There are flaws, especially with some overacting from some of the supporting cast - in particular John C. McGinley - and Chris' unnecessary, rambling narration, but the movie packs such a punch that it's easy to forget these quibbles. It's a true insight into the mind of a grunt and how combat can have a lasting, eye-opening effect on those on the ground, and undoubtedly one of the most important war pictures ever to come out of the US.
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9/10
Brutal but honest.....
goreilly4029 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Of all the war movies I've seen, this is probably one of the most honest and non-romantic depictions of the 20th centuries longest war I've seen. Its a hard movie to watch but its meant to be as it shows the war for the hell it really was, its authenticity cannot be praised enough thanks to Oliver Stone's personal experiences that he went through when serving in the war. The actors put themselves through a tough boot-camp in order for an accurate portrayal and it showed, they didn't have to act exhausted and weary as they genuinely were. Charlie Sheen's depiction as the naive bright eyed college kid who joined up for romantic reasons, but quickly learns the harsh realities of the war is one of the more memorable. likewise Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe as two battle hardened but morally very different veterans are also very memorable. The fighting and battle scenes again are unforgettable and accurate and the show just what the American solders were up against and how slippery and how hard the NVA and the VC could be to pin down. One aspect of the movie which I found refreshing was it didn't attempt to picture the Americans as angels, it showed that they could be no better or sometimes worse than the enemy they were fighting. Now in comparison with Full Metal Jacket, this movie is no better or worse, as it depicts a different aspect of the war than this movie, this movie depicts the type of fighting the soldiers had to do before the Tet Offensive, jungle warfare, where-as Full Metal Jacket depicted urban warfare in the Tet Offensive. So if you want an non-sugar coated, accurate and authentic portrayal of the Vietnam war, then this movie is for you.
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7/10
Solid war movie
christophe923001 October 2012
Though I'm not a war movie fan, I thought Platoon was a solid film.

Oliver Stone did a great job at directing, with perfect shots especially during the combat scenes. Great cast, but you can only admire Sheen's performance as the rest of the actors is a bit in the background to me. Now on the other hand, I felt the movie could have used some extra dynamic script-wise, because even though it is a good storytelling, it is a bit linear.

I rated Platoon 7/10, because I'm not fond of war films, but I have to admit it is a solid one that conveys emotion especially through Sheen's character.
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8/10
An important work
ereinion27 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
"Platoon" was my first introduction to wartime reality.I was just a kid when first viewing it and the film left a powerful impression in me.Before that,I had only seen a couple of Rambo films and thats what I expected to get here,pretty much.It turned out to be something quite different from that,although it would take me a few years to realize just how different.

"Platoon" is Oliver Stone's breakthrough picture and a landmark in Hollywood history of the 80's.It features almost every well known actor on the rise from that era,most notable ones being Forest Whitaker,Johnny Depp,Willem Dafoe,Francesco Quinn and Charlie Sheen.

Why is it a landmark film?It helped to bring more understanding into the hot issue of Vietnam war,although "Apocalypse Now!" had already worked out that subject in the most stunning way.Yet there was still something left to say for Stone.It was pretty much the same as Coppola said,but in another,more harrowing and less complex way.We got a closer glimpse of how it is to die,for one.Dafoe's heroic end is one of the most dramatic scenes in history of war films.

A strong issue here is the abuse of military codes and discipline.Tom Berenger's sadistic,disturbed sgt. Barnes is the perfect example of a warrior playing god,or angel of death, and fighting a war by his own rules.Berenger plays Barnes so well that it really gives you the chills watching him and you want him dead.Sgt. Elias is his counterpart in every way,as he really cares for his men and is in touch with the human in him always.

He is not popular among the lowlifes like the redneck psychopath Bunny (great early role by Kevin Dillon) and the spineless racist O'Neill in John McGinley's incarnation.

Another spineless character is the young lieutenant,who on one hand is a greater sinner than Barnes.He has no control over the men under his command whatsoever and refuses to take responsibility or even feel the guilt for not doing anything to prevent the massacre of the village committed by Barnes and his butchers.Here we see the effect that the horrors are having on private Chris,as he in a fit of frustration and anger over the situation he is in tortures a sick and frail creature of a man and ends up in tears.Its a powerful and riveting scene which highlights the film's message against war,showing its inhumanity and absurdity in the most shocking way.

The final battle is very brutal and well shot.It sums up the whole Vietnam war and the strategy of the American army.The napalm kills not just the Vietcongs but also Americans.Ironically,it saves Chris' life as he is about to be killed by Barnes during their confrontation.Bunny gets what he deserves and Junior,who is the most despicable of the black characters here,also dies.This may be seen as director's own judgment.The only other sympathetic character still alive by this time,the underground lord Rah, is left alive.Francesco Quinn shows here that he is capable of taking over his father's legacy.

In the end,this film is not flawless,but it is a perfect document of the madness that occurred in Vietnam 1964-73.And its consistent to its very end,which by the way is very touching and almost made me cry the second time I watched it.It is funny how one can feel both happy and sad about leaving a war torn place.Such are the feelings that a war conjures up in a man.It is almost like Chris was sad he was leaving,or maybe the emotions that were bubbling under surface just came out for real.

Any which way,this film will always be remembered as the one that gave a true and unpolished picture of mankind at war at a time when Hollywood producers made an attempt to glorify the US army and cast an eclipse on its disgraceful stain,transforming the killing into culture.Ironically they succeeded.8/10
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10/10
My favourite movie of all time!
matthewjamesgraham27 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Still after all these years, platoon is my favourite movie. Sheen, Berenger and Dafoe are so good in this. No lie seen it 15 or so times. Highly recommended. Awesome music soundtrack and memorable scenes like when Elias is running from the enemy alone
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9/10
Platoon is so much more than just your average war film.
TheMovieDiorama9 March 2018
This is actually rather intelligent, both in its plot and technical execution. It's the Vietnam War, we follow a platoon of US soldiers as they attempt to wipe out the enemy. The question that this film raises is: who really is the enemy? You have the conflict of the war itself (America against Vietnam) but within the platoon is a conflict for authority. Split between what is right and what is wrong, the moral implications of this war have taken effect on several soldiers as they question their choices. This was a smart element to include within the plot, it was easier to establish character development and build some tension. The majority of the characters were sufficiently developed and their personalities had charisma. This was mostly down to the great cast. Willem Dafoe was easily the best performance, Tom Berenger was also decent and the heated chemistry between them was well conveyed. Charlie Sheen however, didn't work for me. His acting ability consisted of monotonous dialogue delivery and shouting, perhaps he was overpowered by the rest of the great cast? I don't know, just felt meh. Didn't help that his biggest battle was with nature...we're talking ants, leeches and other insects. Obviously, animals love abit of Sheen. Oliver Stone's direction was solid, very realistic and gritty. The makeup effects were practical, the wounds and blown up limbs looked pretty damn realistic. A standout scene was the raiding of the Vietnamese village. This was the turning point where actually the American side were perceived as the antagonists, clearly communicating with our inner moral compasses. Effective, very effective. This is easily one of the best war films I've seen and winning Best Picture was fully justified.
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8/10
Harrowing & Powerful
slightlymad2215 February 2018
Continuing my plan to watch every Johnny Depp movie in order, I come to Platoon (1986)

The first of Stones Vietnam trilogy. Stone wrote the screenplay based upon his experiences as a U.S. Infantryman in Vietname to counter the vision of the war portrayed in John Waynes The Green Barets. Platoon was the first Hollywood film to be written and directed by a veteran of the Vietnam War. Stone fought for years to get this movie made. Studios didn't want to make another movie about the unpopular war and considered Deer Hunter and Apocolypse Now as the definitive Vietnam movies, and saw no reason to make this.

This really is harrowing viewing, but it's not only the best movie of 1986, its one of the best of the decade.

This movie reminds us, that before he became a tabloid fodder and punchline on late night talk shows Charlie Sheen was once a very promising young actor. His voice-over is eerily reminiscent of Martin Sheen in Apocolypse Now. Willem Defo, Tom Berenger (both playing against type and both Oscar-nominated) John C. McGinley, Kieth David (an actor I always enjoy seeing on screen) and Forest Whitaker are all superb.

The part of Sergeant Barnes was originally offered to Kevin Costner. Although pretty unknown and a few years away from fame, he turned it down because he didn't want to disrespect his brother, who was a Vietnam veteran.

Depp (his helmet reading, "Sherilyn", a tribute to Sherilyn Fenn, whom Depp was dating at the time) is OK, but he fades into the background against the bigger performances, despite a key scene.

Not only did Platoon win Best Picture and Best Director for Stone, it grossed $138 dollars at the domestic box office to end 1986 as the 3rd highest grossing movie of the year.
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