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(For Day 21 of NaPoWriMo, the prompt was for a poem that uses repetition to drive the rhythm forward, so I used the loaded words “The war” to do just that.)

The war was far off overseas,
The war between the Vietnamese,
The war of free and Communist,
The war for which we must enlist,
The war our leaders said to fight,
The war that blurred the wrong and right.
The war inspired defiant tunes,
The war that gobbled whole platoons,
The war that made our mothers cry,
The war that never told them why,
The war that screamed in every face.
The war dragged on despite disgrace,
The war that fueled the most debate,
The war the hippies loved to hate,
The war that few could quite defend,
The war that none could comprehend,
The war we did not fight to win,
The war that answered sin for sin,
The war whose end held no success.
The war still ended nonetheless,
The war so far off overseas
The war that was so hard to please.

MPA rating:  R (for much language and violence)

Platoon has long been known to me as the film with that iconic scene of the jungle soldier with his arms raised amid gunfire while Samuel Barber’s haunting Adagio for Strings crescendos in the background. Yet the film itself was never a priority until it happened to come on TV recently. I now see why it’s considered one of the greatest war films ever. I now see why it warranted Best Picture and Best Direction for Oliver Stone, not to mention Best Sound and Film Editing. It’s a challenging watch, but it seems to do the Vietnam War justice, considering it is somewhat based on Stone’s own experiences enlisting for combat in Vietnam.

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Charlie Sheen proves he was quite a good actor before his crazier days distracted from that fact, and he serves as Chris Taylor, the stand-in for Stone, an idealistic new recruit who is introduced to the horrors of war and a clash of ideologies between ruthless Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger) and kinder Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe). While he makes friends along the way (Keith David), his tour of duty is a tour of everything that made the war hellish: the uncooperative Vietnamese and the difficulty of telling foe from victim, the confusion and threat of friendly fire, the danger of losing your soul amid all the violence.

By the end, even separate from Chris’s poetic monologues, it makes a case for peace simply by illustrating how terrible its absence is. With surprising supporting roles from the likes of Johnny Depp, Kevin Dillon, Forest Whitaker, and John C. McGinley and a perfect ‘60s soundtrack punctuated by the contrasting beauty of classical, Platoon is a great film that may not be easy to watch but is undoubtedly worth it.

Best line: (Elias) “What happened today was just the beginning. We’re gonna lose this war.”
(Chris) “Come on. You really think so? Us?”
(Elias) “We been kicking other people’s a**es for so long, I figured it’s time we got ours kicked.”

Rank:  List Runner-Up

© 2021 S.G. Liput
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