Platoon gives viewers a look at how inhumane and vial war is. A human life is just as valuable as a few bullets or a position in the forest. Lives on both sides are not valued because if it is your life or the enemy. Soldiers are forced to learn this quickly and then killing becomes just another way to get one step closer to surviving. Chris, played by Charlie Sheen, has a hard time adjusting to this harsh reality of war. It is so unlike real life that the soldiers use these horrible acts as a will to live- murdering, raping, stealing, burning villages.
As we discussed in class, the morale of the soldiers falls more and more every day after fighting such a treacherous war. There is fighting in between the platoon and the soldiers are losing sanity. Sgt. Elias, played by Willem Defoe, says towards the middle of the film that “We’re not gonna win this war. We’ve been kicking ass for so long I figured it’s about time we get ours kicked”. They are all trying to escape from reality by doing drugs, drinking, and other vices that make their lives seem better for a small period of time.
What made it difficult in this war was distinguishing between civilians and the Vietcong. In WWII, it was easy to tell who you were fighting against and who was simply living there. In Vietnam, the platoon would stumble upon a village that would look innocent but would start ambushing the platoon and attacking back. So, the soldiers can never be too sure when approaching a village in the jungle because they never know who is hiding there.
In Chris’s final monologue, he begins by saying “We didn’t fight an enemy, we fought ourselves and the enemy was within us.” The mutiny and violence within the platoon were detrimental to their success in the war. They didn’t want to be there, they were in terrible, unfamiliar conditions, and they weren’t fighting for a common cause that could be used to unite the group. The final battle scene was telling of this when the Vietcong moved all together as a unit and the US troops were abandoning their posts and doing whatever they could to stay alive, not to benefit the war effort. The general at the post called in an airstrike because he knew it was the only way he would make it out alive even though many of his troops would die from the airstrike. In this war, no human life was as valuable as your own and that is why the war was a failure.