Oliver Stone’s Platoon remains the pinnacle of his directorial career and with good reason. Presenting the grunt’s eye view of the Vietnam War, this is definitely a movie that could only have been made by someone who had been there. Even if you disagree with Stone’s politics and find fault with his later work, it’s hard to dispute the sincerity and brutal honesty he brings to this film.
The January 30, 1945, raid by U.S. Army Rangers on the Japanese POW camp outside the city of Cabanatuan was not a decisive battle for World War II in the Pacific. It didn’t capture any vital territory or even hasten the Japanese surrender by one day. However, by bringing home over 500 Americans imprisoned since the Bataan Death March, it served to right what many still felt was a national disgrace, the abandonment of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers to three years of hellish captivity at Japanese hands. This mission, along with the assault on the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc on D-Day, also helped cement the Rangers’ reputation as an elite organization.
Oliver Stone‘s JFK is a movie as admirable in its technique as it is troubling in its agenda. Much like Birth of a Nation sought to rewrite the early history of the original Ku Klux Klan, JFK represents a concerted effort on Stone’s part to insert certifiable falsehoods into the historical record of the Kennedy assassination. He gets two basic facts correct. John F. Kennedy was indeed assassinated on November 22, 1963 and New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison did actually prosecute businessman Clay Shaw for his role in an alleged conspiracy. After that, the facts and Mr. Stone have a strained relationship at best. I sincerely hope that this movie will be as routinely dismissed by future generations as Birth of a Nation is today.