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Courage Under Fire
Director: Edward Zwick
Starring: Denzel Washington, Meg Ryan
Length: 115 minutes
1996

The movie takes place in the time frame of the Gulf War, January 1991.  Lieutenant Colonel Nathaniel Serling, played by Denzel Washington, is a tank commander serving in the war.  During a night attack, Serling orders his men to fire at a tank which happened to be driven by his own men.  As a result of this misjudgment, he was dismissed from fighting in the war.

Many years after the war, Serling was hired to investigate Captain Karen Walden’s actions during the war to see if they were worthy of a Medal of Honor.  During this investigation, many of Walden’s platoon members were questioned about her valor as a Captain.  After extensive searching, it was decided that even though she was not the best leader and that all of her decisions were not in the best interest of war, she did, in fact, deserve the Medal of Honor for Courage Under Fire.

This film can be compared to Platoon in the sense that in both cases there was tense interaction between the platoon leaders and their members.  Barnes was disliked by his platoon members for his decisions, as was Walden.  However, both characters were, in fact, good leaders, and they helped serve their country through the war.
 

Saving Private Ryan
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Matt Damon, Tom Hanks
Length: 165 minutes
1998

This film takes place during the time frame of World War II.  The movie is a reflection of Private Ryan and his tales from the war.  The gruesome battle scenes of the opening scenes at Omaha Beach keep the attention of the viewer.  Tom Hanks and his platoon are on a mission to find the missing and last living son of the Ryan family.  This was a mission more of compassion than of war.

Ryan, once found, refuses to leave with the platoon and leave the war to go back to the US.  He has a great deal of honor for his country and insists on fighting to protect the last bridge not taken over by the enemy.  This greatly frustrated Hanks and his platoon members, for they had failed in their mission to send Ryan home.

The graphic war scenes make a good comparison with those of Platoon.  Gore, blood, brutality, and violence are similar themes in both movies.  Also, the sense of honor within the platoons is an ongoing theme in both films.  Both movies reflect the idea that, “War has plenty of roles, but it’s also a big mess that no one really understands” (Ted Fry, movie reviewer).