TW: sexual assault
In the movie Platoon, we witnessed the battle experiences of an infantry platoon during the Vietnam War. The movie draws on specific themes of the Vietnam War, such as the vast violence and loss of life, the harrowing conditions and resulting PTSD faced by many of the soldiers, and the fact that many soldiers questioned the morality of the war they were fighting in, and why they were even at war in the first place. I personally found watching the movie to be difficult. I have learned a lot about the Vietnam War in this class as well as previous classes I have taken at Richmond, but watching such scenes of violence and shooting make me very uncomfortable. Obviously, my discomfort does not compare to the absolute horrors the soldiers themselves had to face, both in Vietnam and the lasting effects from when they returned home.
Two scenes that particularly stuck out to me, and that I thought summarized the main messages about Vietnam that the movie was trying to get across, were the scenes in the village and the final scene in the helicopter. The scene in the village showed how so many Vietnamese civilians were killed during the Vietnam war, whether it was due to VietCong suspicions or simply because some soldiers were ruthless and angry. The unnecessary violence, death, and aggression calls on questions of morality during the war, and of whether the number of lives being lost was truly necessary. Specifically the shooting of the Vietnamese woman, the chief’s wife, and the gang rape of another Vietnamese woman show the true violence and horror faced by civilians, and American soldiers also had to bear witness to their fellow soldiers committing such atrocities. The final helicopter scene also showcases the vast loss of life in the disturbing footage of the mass grave with countless corpses of American soldiers, and the PTSD that the war brought for many soldiers who had to bear witness to the atrocities committed. Additionally, the voice over mentions how the war will always stay with the main character, and that although it was supposed to be a war against the NVA, it ended up being a war against each other. I think these two final statements sum up the war well, and the movie as a whole does a good job showing the realities of the Vietnam War.