Platoon, directed by Oliver Stone and cast with such prominent actors as Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe, is, to me, the quintessential Vietnam film. The viewer is introduced to Charlie Sheen (Chris), the naïve American boy who volunteers to nobly fight for his country only to realize that he has chosen the wrong war. Throughout the film Chris’s romantic notion of war and Vietnam is shot down, as he witnesses mutiny, betrayal, and corruption. Platoon contrasts well with The Killing Fields, as the harsh realities of war force the innocent Chris to become the hardened Schanberg, critical of our government and questioning of our presence in Vietnam.
Under Fire (1983)
Under Fire can be most directly compared to The Killing Fields, since both films focus on the experiences of journalists reporting in a war-torn countryside. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode, this film powerfully captures the passion and dedication of Russell Price (Nick Nolte) and other journalists caught up in Nicaragua’s 1979 strife. Under Fire’s story line differs from that of The Killing Fields in two key ways. First, there is the inclusion of a romantic relationship, via a love triangle between Price, Claire (Joanna Cassidy), and Alex Grazier (Gene Hackman), complicating the political plot. Second, the emotions of war are shown to affect Price in Under Fire more so than Schanberg in The Killing Fields, as Price profoundly decides to aid the Nicaraguan’s in their revolution, a decision that ultimately leads to his demise.
Apocalypse Now (1979), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Casualties of War (1989), Coming Home (1978), The Deer Hunter (1978), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Hamburger Hill (1987), Salvador (1986)
Copyright (c) 1999 by Wendy Elizabeth Kuhn, Undergraduate at Lehigh University.
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