Somebody once wrote: "Hell is the impossibility of reason". That's what this place feels like. Hell. I hate it already and it's only been a week.
— Private Chris Taylor
Platoon is an acclaimed war film written and directed by Oliver Stone based on his experiences as an American soldier in The Vietnam War. It was released in 1986 and won the Academy Award for Best Picture. This is also his first film about the war, followed by Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven And Earth. These three films are often said to form a "trilogy", although they merely share subject matter and do not take place in a shared continuity.The film follows a new recruit named Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) as he gets thrown into the humid, alien and deadly jungles of war and gives a frank look at the toll the war took on the men that fought, lived and died in the jungle. The main conflict is the murder of innocent civilians causing a rift in the platoon while Chris tries to find the correct thing to do in a war with ambiguous morals.It is generally considered a milestone in war films in that the battles are far from glamorized and it is not afraid of showing just how hellish it can be; this makes it come closer to defeating Do Not Do This Cool Thing than many other films.A tie-in videogame was developed by Ocean Software a year after the film's release. Probably some of the least necessary film-to-game adaptations ever, given that the movie was demonizing the war. They at least tried to replicate the film's message in the NES game by giving you a "Morale" gauge which goes down whenever you kill a civilian. Once the bar drops to zero, a Non Standard Game Over occurs. The game's levels recreated the film's scenes, each with their own gameplay style, from a side-scrolling shooter to a First-Person Shooter, and vice versa.Another tie-in game was released in 2002, this time a real-time tactics game.
Asshole Victim: Most notably Pvt. Bunny and Lt. Thomas Wolfe during the final battle. In general, most, if not all, of the soldiers (excluding Chris and Sgt. Elias Grodin) in the platoon might count. It's hard to root for or to feel sympathy for any of them after they attempted to massacre the Vietnamese villagers.
Author Avatar: Basically, Chris is Oliver Stone. His commentary on the film reveals that just about everything is taken from his time in Vietnam, and he occasionally talks like he really is the character.
The odd thing is, just before lifting the box, he was telling his comrade to be careful about where he stepped and what he touched because of... well, y'know. Why didn't he just grab the papers from within the box? The Idiot Ball, that's why.
The Captain: Subverted with Harris; he's not part of the platoon.
Cassandra Truth: When Junior falls asleep on his watch, blowing an ambush and causing one platoon member to be killed, he immediately tells a bold-faced lie and says it was Chris. The others believe Junior unquestioningly since Chris is the rookie. Chris meekly tries to defend himself ("I didn't fall asleep. It was Junior.") but it falls on deaf ears. "Excuses are like assholes! Everybody has one!"
However, if you pay close attention you will see that two most experienced men (Barnes and Elias) aren't fooled by Junior for one minute. When Barnes gives his lecture on what he's going to do to the next person who falls asleep on watch, he pauses to give Junior a blistering death glare. In addition, Elias pointedly orders Junior to help carry Gardner's corpse
Chromosome Casting: All of the characters are men (appropriate given the setting and period).
Cluster F-Bomb: Elias when he finds out what Barnes did at the village. So bad that even career soldiers thought it was over-the-top.
Couldn't Find a Lighter: One of the characters lights his cigarette from a villager's burning hut that the American soldiers have just torched.
Creator Cameo: Oliver Stone as the company commander who gets bombed to oblivion by an NVA sapper.
Crucified Hero Shot: One of the most popular examples. Since this became the main poster/video box/DVD cover image, this rather builds up expectations of the film. The closing narration doesn't help. The image is a homage to the famous 1968 photograph by Art Greenspon.
Death from Above: And below. And left, right, front, and back. Though to be fair, this trope occurs literally in the form of Huey helicopters and an F-4 Phantom airstrike.
Evil Versus Evil: The sociopathic American soldiers themselves (with the exception of Taylor, Elias, and a few others) may not be one of the movies' saintly soldiers, but the NVA who were against them were as bad as they.
General Ripper/Reasonable Authority Figure: Zig-zagged with Captain Harris. He was willing to court-martial Barnes and Elias if he finds out an illegal killing took place. But during the Final Battle, he orders the air strike on the base which killed many of his own men and the NVA attackers.
In fairness to him, final protective fire is an accepted desperation tactic when a position is overrun or about to be overrun.
Chris earns a classic "good" scar on his cheek from his fight with Barnes. As Chris leaves on the chopper after killing Barnes, he has a deep cut on his face almost identical to Barnes'.
Good Guns, Bad Guns: Played with. The Americans and the briefly-seen ARVN troops use NATO firearms, while the NVA use Chinese Type 56s and B-40 RPGs, the former of which is also used by both Barnes and Taylor late in the film. Pretty much Truth in Television as discussed in the trope page.
Good Is Not Nice: The platoon fractures into an idealist group loyal to Elias and a survivalist group loyal to Barnes. However, the stoners in Elias' group are far from saints. Elias and Taylor are the most moral of the entire platoon, and they do a lot of drugs, cursing, and starting fights.
Harris: Be advised, we got zips in the wire down here... For the record, it's my call. Dump everything you got left on my pos. I say again, expend all remaining in my perimeter. It's a lovely fucking war. Bravo Six out.
Jerkass: A majority of the soldiers (bar Chris and Elias, who look like absolute saints compared to the others, despite their constant swearing) that you might see in this movie were assholes from start to finish, especially Barnes, Bunny and Wolfe. And don't even start about the village scene where they interrogate the civilians.
Karmic Death: Chris frags Barnes with three rounds in the upper-right torso, exactly how Barnes shot Elias.
The Neidermeyer: Wolfe, the leader of the titular platoon. An incompetent coward who is unable to control his own soldiers, he lets Elias and Barnes do as they like (and the only order he gives is to burn down the village). US Army leadership classes have used Wolfe an example of how a junior officer should not behave.
The Obi-Wan: Elias is faster, stronger and more experienced than his student Chris.
Obligatory War Crime Scene: Pretty much everything Bunny does, including beating a crippled Vietnamese civilian and his elderly mother to death just for the hell of it, and nearly raping a young girl.
Opposing Combat Philosophies: Elias (laid-back/tactical) and Barnes (aggressive). Stone based them on two different sergeants he knew while he was in Vietnam. They never met but Stone wondered what would happen if two men of such opposing viewpoints were in the same platoon.
Opposed Mentors: Wide-Eyed Idealist Chris is torn between two Sergeants about how he should conduct himself in Vietnam. As his closing monologue goes" The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days. As I'm sure Elias will be, fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called "possession of my soul".
War Is Hell: This movie does not attempt balance: it is an all-out War Is Hell work. It contains war crimes including murder and attempted rape, graphic imagery of violent death and maiming, PTSD, drug use, mistaken fire on friendly units, and focuses on lethal infighting. note For the record, the drug use was generally one of the more positive elements the protagonist encountered.
Dolled-Up Installment: The Real-Time Strategy game was originally going to be just, well, a generic Vietnam War-themed strategy game. That is, until the publisher got the rights to the film, and the game's story was retooled to fit the film.
Genre Shift: Each level has different gameplay changes. You even get to fight and kill Barnes in a grenade-throwing duel.