Movie review, AFI’s 100 years… 100 movies


©Roland Neveu

(Left to right): Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger

It recently came to my attention that the American Film Institute (AFI) has a few lists of movies they’ve compiled. Of those lists, there is one I’ve decided to begin working my way through by watching all the films it includes: AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies: 10th Anniversary Edition.

As the name suggests, the list is comprised of 100 movies that have been released over the past 100 years. To be completely honest, the list isn’t for everyone. And by everyone, I mean this: if you can’t imagine sitting through a black and white film, a musical, or both, then this is not the list for you.

As a side note, I personally can’t imagine sitting through either of the previously mentioned films, but I’m bored most of the time, so I’m ready to subject myself to hours of show tunes in the off chance someone reads any of my movie reviews and thinks “hey…I like this guy’s opinion.”

However, there are quite a few classics on the list that are more modern and well known. Films like “Star Wars,” “Schindler’s List” and “The Godfather” are a few examples of some of the more high-ranking films.

Regardless of my thoughts on some of the films, I have decided that in order to call myself a movie fan, I need to be able to say I’ve watched these films. And since I’m going to do this, I figured why not share my thoughts on the films with the readers of The Dakota Student? I have an opinion section to fill, after all. So over the course of this semester, I will be watching the movies as often as possible and sharing my thoughts via the opinion page. If you have any feedback on any of the movie reviews, by all means, write to The Dakota Student and let us know.

First on my list of movies to watch this semester is currently number 86 on the AFI’s list, “Platoon.” Directed by Oliver Stone and starring Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger, “Platoon” follows a young man (Sheen) who has traded in his life of privilege for one of combat duty in Vietnam with the United States Army.

Over the course of his time in Vietnam, Sheen’s character discovers the good and evil in both his enemy and his comrades. Throughout the film, viewers are invited to peek behind the veil commonly placed between the average American and the reality of war.

That’s what stuck out most to me when watching this film: the way it chose to depict the Vietnam War. In my opinion, there are far too many films that try and focus on the glory of battle and make the entire ordeal out to be a collage of bravery, like “We Were Soldiers,” for example; while there is certainly bravery in war, it hardly plays out the way that film depicts it.

While “We Were Soldiers” was a great movie, there’s a certain truth and grittiness that gets overlooked. The men in the movie are clean cut, fresh out of college and wish for nothing more than to serve their country, several of who die dramatic deaths in slow motion while attempting to save a fellow comrade.

While this demographic certainly exists, it is actually a small group. The overwhelming majority of men and women in the military are fresh out of high school and scared out of their minds, yet stepping up in the face of danger to protect each other. This is where “Platoon” succeeds where most war films do not.

The grim reality of war is shown within minutes of the film beginning, as Sheen arrives in Vietnam only to come into contact with body bags of soldiers being sent home. The film continues to address the realities of not only war, but the men involved, by taking a few minutes to address the men of the platoon Sheen’s character is in. With some inner dialogue by Sheen, the film points out that most of the men have only two years of high school, and maybe a job back home if they’re lucky. Sheen’s dialogue points out the irony in the fact that though these men are considered part of the lowest of society in America, they are the ones who are in Vietnam protecting it.

Now, as a Marine who served for eight years and completed tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, I’ve seen behind the veil that commonly shields the public from the reality of war. There is a lot that gets overlooked when imagining war and all the facts that go along with it.

Considering what I’ve seen, “Platoon” does a fantastic job of capturing the little things you simply don’t see in several films. Things like filling sand bags all day, getting little sleep and hiking for hours on end until you collapse from exhaustion.

So if there’s anyone amongst our readers who enjoys war flicks, but hasn’t seen “Platoon,” I would highly suggest you take some time to watch it. It’s a fantastic film with great visual effects, superior acting and a truth in the content you won’t see in most films. Plus, along with being ranked number 86 on AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movies— 10th Anniversary Edition, the film also won four Academy Awards in 1986, to include Best Film and Best Director

Matt Eidson is the Opinion Editor of The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]