Platoon. An amazing movie set in the Vietnam War, and one that manages to capture the true horror and raw emotion of war, with scenes that are both tragic and traumatic, and also scenes that are truly horrifying, making you not want to watch, but unable to look away. It was incredibly well made, and perfectly acted by all those in the film. We take a look at some facts surrounding the film, were you aware of these or are they a complete surprise?
1. Two of the lead roles were deliberately cast against type.
Oliver Stone deliberately cast Tom Berenger, who had mainly played good guys up to that point, as the sadistic Sergeant Barnes, and Willem Defoe, who had usually played the villain, as the caring and compassionate Sergeant Elias. The casting worked, as both were amazing in their roles and were both nominated for Oscars.
2. The scene where Chris saves a Vietnamese Girl is based on reality
When Chris saves a Vietnamese girl from being raped, this was based on something that really happened when Oliver Stone intervened and stopped an assault happening when he was in Vietnam himself. It makes you realise how terrifying being there must have been!
3. Several Actors wrote messages on their helmets
Messages were written by several of the actors on the helmets they wore throughout the film. Charlie Sheen wrote upon his, When I die, bury me upside-down so the World can kiss my ass!” Nice and exactly the kind of thing we’d expect him to say to be fair! Johnny Depp’s was a lot simpler, stating a single word, “Sherilyn” after the girl he was dating at the time.
4. The actors actually did get stoned on Marijuana!
In the scenes where Elias’ half of the Platoon get stoned on Marijuana, many of the cast actually did smoke the stuff before filming the scenes. However, due to a delay in filming, most of them had come down from their high when it came to filming and simply felt awful when it came to the cameras rolling!
5. Claire Simpson had other influences aside from editing…
Claire Simpson won an Oscar for her editing on the film, which is fantastically done. However, Simpson was also the one who suggested to Oliver Stone that Barber’s Adagio For Strings be played over the more moving scenes in the movie. It has become an iconic and beloved piece of music that is absolutely associated with this movie!
6. The most iconic image was based on reality
The famous poster, depicting the man on his knees and with his arms stretched in air has gone down in history as one of the most powerful and famous movie images ever, evoking emotions every time you see it. But did you know it was based on a very real picture taken by photographer Art Greenspon in 1968?
7. Oliver Stone deliberately made the cast exhausted!
Prior to filming, the cast were subjected to a grueling 2 weeks intensive training. This wasn’t so much to get them to bond or physically fit for the movie, but to deprive them of sleep and make them so exhausted that they were already struggling and already basically in character ready for filming!
8. In spite of warnings in the film, Willem Defoe got ill drinking river water!
In one scene, a character is warned not to drink water from the river because they may catch Malaria. Willem Defoe should have heeded the advice, he was thirsty and drank from a river whilst filming, not knowing there was a dead pig not far up stream. He didn’t catch Malaria but was sick for 24 hours as a consequence!
9. Tom Berenger’s scar took hours every day!
The make-up crew wanted Tom Berenger’s facial scar to look as realistic as possible. As a result, it took up to three hours every single day of filming to apply the make-up, which would have been grueling as the filming of Platoon was stressful enough for the cast.
10. The packs of Marlboro were specially made
Oliver Stone wanted the props for the film to be as authentic as possible and so commissioned the packs of Marlboro used to be specially made. They were made to be a cherry-red colour to more accurately represent the Marlboro packs in the days that Platoon is set.
11. Oliver Stone suffered PTSD whilst filming Platoon
Oliver Stone had an attack of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder whilst making Platoon, and this was witnessed by fellow Vietnam-veteran Dale Dye who was the film’s Miltary Advisor. The two had a good cry together following Stone’s attack, based on their mutual experiences in the country.
12. Johnny Depp was almost sick with the stress of filming
During one particularly stressful shoot, Johnny Depp was almost reduced to vomiting because he was so intimidated by Oliver Stone’s aggressive behaviour and style of direction on the project. In spite of this and how stressful he found it, Stone still insisted Depp do a second take of the scene!
13. Forest Whitaker genuinely fell during the opening scenes
During the opening credits, when Forest Whitaker’s character, Big Harold, falls and rolls down a hill, Whitaker insists that this was a genuine and accidental fall, not a deliberate and scripted one.
14. The RPG fired near the end of the film was real!
Oliver Stone really wanted this film to be realistic and depict the genuine feeling of “being there”. Near the end of the film when a Rocket Propelled Grenade is fired, Oliver Stone insisted on using a real one, so the one fired was very real, adding to the realistic portrayal of just how it must have felt to have been there amongst the bullets and explosions. Scary stuff!
15. Platoon was very popular at the box office.
Platoon was a fantastic film, and thankfully it was very well supported by the general public who went to see it in their droves to live through what it was like to be in the heart of a deadly and terrifying war. Platoon was the third highest grossing film of 1986, with only Crocdile Dundee and Top Gun taking more Box Office Dollars, with Top Gun in number 1 spot.
Did you learn anything new about this amazing movie? Are you someone who has yet to watch this masterpiece? It’s a difficult film to watch as it truly hits home the horrors of war and what it was like to be there with other soldiers who were totally unprepared and mentally unequipped to deal with the horrors that awaited them. Let us know your thoughts in the comments as always!