After watching Platoon, I have gained a newfound respect and perspective on soldiers fighting and enduring the conditions of war. My father was in the Marines, and he and my older brother enjoy watching films associated with wars, and I would always shy away from watching these with them because personally I don’t really love the violent and gruesome scenes that generally frame those movies. However, after watching this film and finding it extremely riveting and inspiring, I think I will definitely join in the next time they are watching or even watch them on my own.
I found it very interesting to see the contrast between the soldiers lives while in uniform and on the fields, compared to hanging out in their bunks while “off-duty”. It seemed so strange – there was a war raging miles from them that they were participating in, yet they still could relax enough to dance, sing, and joke around with each other. I feel like this ability to let their guards down a little and experience some type of normalcy in their insane routine of eat, sleep, and fight, is a very crucial aspect to keep their morals high and serve as a distraction from what was happening around them. It is crazy how we take chilling with our friends whenever we want for granted, when for these men it could possibly be their only saving grace during the war.
I was also struck by the concept of being a drafted solider vs one who volunteered, especially for the Vietnam War, as there was so much controversy surrounding that idea. I thought it was interesting how in the film, Chris informs his fellow comrades that he volunteered for the war, and they were dumbstruck, unable to fathom why, as they could tell he was an educated white man who definitely would have gone to college. Chris explains that he gave up going to college because he wasn’t going to learn anything worthwhile anyways. The class stereotypes surrounding the war are evident here and allow us to understand how many felt about them during this time.