Being born in 1968, I was totally unaware of the Vietnam War when I was younger, until I started learning about it in school. Even though the war lasted until 1975, it was around the time of my birth when attitudes in the US started to change. One group of people still believed in the war and believed that we were there for a purpose, while another group believed that we should end the war and get out of Vietnam. It was this conflict (as well as the conflict of the war itself) that is depicted in Oliver Stone's Platoon.
Platoon – 25th Anniversary Edition
Based partly upon Oliver Stone's own experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War, Platoon portrays the story of a young, optimistic soldier named Taylor (played by Charlie Sheen), who wants to do his part. He wasn't drafted, he signed up and volunteered to go to Vietnam because he believed it was the right thing to do. But as time goes on and he gains more first-hand experience of fighting in the war, not only do his views change, but his entire character as well.
In the story, Taylor is flanked by two opposing officers: Sergeant Elias (played by Willem Dafoe) and Sergeant Barnes (played by Tom Berenger). Sergeant Elias is of the mind that the war has gone on far too long and that America is in it for the wrong reasons. He sees the death and destruction around him and just wants to see the end of it. On the other hand, Sergeant Barnes believes that the war is still a good cause and that he is doing his duty as a member of the American military. As such, Barnes puts very little value on the lives of the Vietnamese people (whether they are military or civilian), which causes a major conflict between himself and Elias… and Taylor gets caught in the middle.
Platoon on Blu-ray
The 25th Anniversary Edition includes the movie on both Blu-ray and DVD as two discs in the same package. The video of the hi-def version is excellent and significantly better than the standard definition DVD version. The hi-def picture is very detailed with a nice balance of colors and only some very minor age-related anomalies in just a few places… you probably won't notice them if you aren't looking for them. The dark colors and shadows are rendered very well. The jungle scenes really show of the high quality of this picture.
Unfortunately, the audio could have used some more work. It's not really any better than past editions. That's not to say there are any blaring mistakes or problems, it's just that the soundtrack doesn't really take full advantage of the surround-sound stage. The audio doesn't really pull you in and provide that fully immersive experience you would come to expect from a film like this, which is full of scenes that provide ample opportunities for great sound effects.
Platoon – 25th Anniversary Extras
The package includes a number of bonus features, which are all found on the Blu-ray disc, although they are all in standard definition. There are two great audio commentaries: one from Oliver Stone and another from Dale Dye. In his commentary, Stone talks about some of his personal experiences during the war and how they relate to the film. He also talks about the challenges in making the film. Dale Dye was the military technical advisor for the film and he also talks about some of his experiences, as well as the technical accuracy of the film and how action scenes were created.
Flashback to Platoon is a three-part, 49-minute documentary that talks about the film's plot and it's historical significance, how parts of the film were made, and how it was received by American audiences. It also includes interviews with cast, crew and historians. One War, Many Stories is another documentary (26 minutes) that talks about how authentic the film was and how it accurately depicted the war. It also includes stories from real war veterans. Preparing for the 'Nam is a brief, 7-minute piece that talks about why some men enlisted during the war and how difficult it was to go through basic training.
Caputo & 7th Fleet provides a 2-minute interview with author Philip Caputo about the end of the war in Saigon. Dye Training Method provides a 3-minute interview with military technical advisor Captain Dale Dye about how he prepared the actors for the film. Gordon Gekko provides a 1-minute chat with film editor Claire Simpson about how Oliver Stone came up with the Gordon Gekko character name for the film Wall Street and how it was inspired by working on the set of Platoon. In addition, the bonus features include ten deleted scenes that are worth watching as well as a number of trailers for the film.
Platoon and the Horrors of War
Despite my misgivings about the audio, which may have been a bit harsh, I think Platoon is an excellent film. It delivers a poignant story about the horrors of war and the sacrifice required from the brave people in the military. The film provides a stark depiction about how things really were during our time in Vietnam and the excellent performances add to an already very realistic plot. The Blu-ray lets you watch Platoon with wonderfully detailed visuals and includes a nice collection of bonus features to round out the experience.
Additional information: Platoon - 25th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray and DVD