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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this Oscar-winning war drama -- one of the most highly regarded Vietnam War movies -- is highly violent, powerful, and devastating. The violence is intense, with almost constant guns, blood, and dead bodies; soldiers also shoot and rape (mostly implied) Vietnamese characters, and burn a village. Language is likewise very strong, with almost constant use of "f--k," as well as heavy uses of words like "s--t" and "c--ksucker."
Grounded, lifelike war epic is at times upsetting and very mature
Platoon (1987) is a war epic following Chris Tayler and his platoon through a harrowing transformation of their innocence. The film is at times very upsetting and although the violence isn't gratuitously bloody or gross, almost every victim dies slowly and mercy is rare on the battlefield. Also, expect lots of strong language and elements of rape.
During a nighttime firefight, several soldiers both Vietcong and American are shot and killed. The shootings aren't bloody, but the wounded men are shown squirming around and slowly dying, one with an open wound on his stomach. The other man was skimmed on the neck with the bullet, and survived.
A man is shot with a pistol and killed. Very brief, no blood, and in the darkness.
A bomb suddenly explodes killing 2 men. One of the men walks out of the smoke with his arm missing completely, and instead, he is shown with a bloody boney stump and the rest of his body is bloody and flayed. He stumbles around and eventually falls dead.
A soldier's bloody corpse is shown pinned to a tree.
Soldiers ravage an innocent Vietnamese village. They roam around executing the animals, exploding food and holes in the ground (one with a man in it), and throwing, pushing, and hitting civilians. At one point, the men pull a handicapped man with a missing leg out of a hole in the ground. They push and curse at him before making him hop on one leg as they shoot the floor below him. A woman, supposedly his family, screams in terror as this happens before one of the soldiers continually face the gun as blood splatters on the killers. The man is killed, and after one of the soldiers says he's never seen a head smash like that, and he's never seen brains either. Then, one of the soldiers says that they should "do" the old woman. Outside, a man is shoved around and interrogated for being involved with the VC when his wife argues and cries, she is suddenly shot in the head. Blood sprays out of her head when her child begins crying and her husband runs over to her corpse as blood is seeping onto the floor. Then, one of the soldiers grabs the daughter and holds a gun to her head in front of the husband to obtain information when another soldier runs over and begins fighting the other. Some punches are thrown and they both bleed. Afterward, they burn the village to the ground, while this is happening one of the soldiers finds a little girl being gang-raped by several soldiers. This is not shown onscreen, however, the little girl is shown crying on the floor and a soldier is shown pulling his pants up after he is caught. They argue that she is "a thing" and ask if the soldier protesting is gay. He carries the girl away while screaming at the men about how they are animals. All of the villagers are shown walking away from the village as it burns down. This is one of the most upsetting film scenes of all time, and because of this scene alone, I would recommend this film to mature audiences.
Some mutilated bodies are shown being escorted to a medical zone.
2 intense gunfights towards the end where countless soldiers are shot, killed, and exploded on both sides. The fight starts with a man being shot (who survives through it just to die) and several men are shot down and killed with some blood shown. Soldiers are shown on the ground suffering while dying, one man stuffing his intestines back into his stomach (much of this is obscured), and a bomb explodes nearby a man causing shrapnel to fly into his back. Another man tries to dig it out with a knife as smoke seeps out of his wounds. A man is shot purposefully by a member of his platoon and left in the jungle. He is later shown running away from the soldiers riddled with bullet wounds and bloody marks before falling to the ground, dead. A man is blinded by grenade shrapnel and has a magazine unloaded onto him. A man has his leg blown off from a booby trap yet the wound is not shown. A room full of men explodes from an airstrike. A man tries to run from gunfire, but runs into a tree and is repeatedly stabbed with a bayonet. A man is shown beating a fellow soldier to death, yet he is caught. A wounded man is repeatedly shot while crawling on the floor. An overwhelmingly large amount of explosions and gunfire are shown in these scenes.
The aftermath of the final fight shows countless dead bodies lying all over the valley. Depressing and quite sad considering the message of the scene.
159 uses of "f*ck", many uses of "sh*t", soldiers frequently use the word "c*cksucker" and "p*ssy", racial slurs such as "g**k", "d*nk" and "sl*pe are heard along with one use of "n*gger" from a white man to a black man. Strong language, yet it seems less than it is due to the setting, I found.
SEXUAL CONTENT: MILD
Plently of sexual banter, a man's butt crack is shown while he urinates, an disturbing out-of-view rape scene.
DRUG CONTENT: MODERATE
Drug use is one of the main themes of the film. Lots of smoking. Us of marijuana to "escape reality", the drug is used via joint, pipe, a gas mask, and a rifle. a man is implied to be a heroin user, a man takes a bag of marijuana out of a corpse and smiles. Some drinking as well.
OVERALL: 14+ for sustained sequences of disturbing violent content, language throughout and drug use,
This movie does not shy away from showing the ugliest part of Vietnam and shows both sides committing atrocities and war crimes against each other with Vietnamese (shown off camera) slit a prisoners throat and tie him to a tree and Americans try to commit rape against a young woman but another American soldier stops them before they can do anything (rape is never said though it is heavily implied) and soldiers are hit and wounded by enemy gunfire and scream when they get hit there is little gore but there are some scenes with wounded soldiers and there flesh showing (no close ups however) are many F bombs a uses of A*s Sh*t F*cking a*sshole and various other swears but it’s recalling nothing worse than a kid will hear at school and there is some sexual talk about women back home and talk about sex when they get home and soldiers are seen drinking beer and smoking cigarettes weed and hookah (I’m unsure about the last it’s not well seen)
In 1967, wet-behind-the-ears solider Chris (Charlie Sheen) arrives in Vietnam, assigned to ground combat. He narrates his experiences in letters to his grandmother. In unrelated incidents, he faces many horrific situations, including exhaustion, fear, ennui, and the presence of constant death. He meets several other soldiers, including outcasts and misfits from every walk of life. Most notably, he meets two sergeants, the grizzled Barnes (Tom Berenger), who believes in the war and in victory and will stop at nothing to get it, and the more kindly Elias (Willem Dafoe), who sees things a little less simply. Eventually these two inspire fighting within the ranks. Will Chris survive both the inner and outer conflicts?
Is It Any Good?
No war movie is truly an anti-war movie, but PLATOON comes close, and it's still as powerful as it was decades ago. Writer/director Oliver Stone based his movie on his own experiences and attempted to make a more realistic Vietnam movie, simpler and more grounded than things like Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter (and more ambitious than the Rambo movies) -- and he succeeds, truly making this war look like hell.
But at the same time he can't resist some of his more bombastic, operatic touches, such as the famous slow-motion death scene that was featured on the poster and in all the clips; and it's clear that Elias and Barnes represent something deeper and more timeless than mere sergeants in a specific war; they are the battle between good and evil, angels and devils. What's more, some of the climactic combat footage, lit by falling flares, is sublimely beautiful, and not as horrific as it wants to be.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the movie's extreme violence. How did it make you feel? How did the movie achieve this effect? How is this movie's violence different from other war movies?
What kind of statement is this movie making about war? Do you think this movie's message could translate to more modern wars?
What role do women play in this movie? Do you see any space where female characters could have played a larger role? Why do you think they are not there?