War Movies in the 1980s
I can't believe this is hub number five in a series on war movies. With so many war movies I thought it best to break them into decades. Then, I decided to pick two or three from each of those decades to take a closer look at starting in 1940. I'm now at 1980. New war movies come out all the time..new war movies about new wars some about old wars.
War movies in the eighties faced a few problems, such as blockbusters like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Also released in the eighties were movies like Die Hard, An Officer and a Gentleman (a military movie but not a war movie), Police Academy, Mad Max, Rocky, and so on...you get the picture...the competition was rough. But war movies always stand the test of time and competition!
As I'm going through war movies it dawns on me I really do like Clint Eastwood and his movies! This is the second war movie starring Clint that I've picked (the first was in an earlier war movies hub). Heartbreak Ridge was made in 1986. This is a typical Clint part. He is a Marine Gunnery Sergeant nearing retirement. He has problems with his officers, problems with his platoon and problems trying to get his ex-wife back, but he has that Clint bravado and courage.
The introduction to this movie is riveting, I'm not sure if it's the fighting or the music or a combination of both...possibly because this is real war movie footage.
Eastwood is an old-time soldier and though this is his old outfit, its hard to recognize. The officer in charge before him had little interest in discipline so his new platoon needs some training. He tries to shape them up with field exercises. The platoon, not too happy about this, tries to use "Swede" Johnson, a huge brute of a guy to intimidate Eastwood (Sgt. Highway) but of course we know that doesn't work! When Highway takes the Swede down, the men head for training without any further questioning.
War Movies of the 1980s
Missing in Action
Born on the Fourth of July
The Big Red One
Good Morning Viet Nam
The Final Countdown
War and Rememberance
Empire of the Sun
Highway's platoon becomes a real, disciplined platoon and is sent to the Invasion of Grenada. Remember Swede Johnson? On the way to combat, jumping from their helicopter, it goes something like this:
Swede Johanson: Gunny, I'm afraid of heights.
Highway: So am I.
Swede Johanson: You are?
Highway: Jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft is not a natural act. So let's do it right, enjoy the view. Come on.
In the Invasion they use a bulldozer for protection and manage to rescue American students. When their radioman is killed and their radio knocked out the Lieutenant takes over and suggests using the telephone to try to get air support. Later, against orders, they take a key rebel position on a hill and capture enemy P.O.W.s. The officer threatens Highway with a court martial and bawls the men out, however, when the Commanding Officer arrives he commends Highway and the men for their bravery and initiative. When they return home they are met with a warm reception and Highway's ex-wife is there to greet him. This was Highway's last hurrah, as he is now retiring.
This is a typical Clint Eastwood movie...he's brash, know-it-all, and right! It's a good movie with lots of action, humor and comradery. While it is a war movie there is a lot of humor and irony as well. Well worth seeing if you haven't seen it before.
Quotes from Platoon
Chris Taylor: Somebody once wrote, "Hell is the impossibility of reason." That's what this place feels like. Hell.
Chris Taylor: Day by day, I struggle to maintain not only my strength but my sanity. It's all a blur. I have no energy to write. I don't know what's right and what's wrong anymore. The morale of the men is low. A civil war in the platoon. Half the men with Elias, half with Barnes. There's a lot of suspicion and hate. I can't believe we're fighting each other when we should be fighting them.
Bunny: What are they doing over there? They're gettin' high, that's what.
[King is writing a letter to his girlfriend] Francis: It aint D-E-R-E, its D-E-A-R. And "Sarah" aint got no two Rs, King. Damn you're dumb. King: It don't make no difference, she know what I mean. She don't read too good nohow.
Wikipedia states, " A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer—the platoon leader or platoon commander, is usually a lieutenant. He is usually assisted by a senior non-commissioned officer—the platoon sergeant." It goes on to say in the U.S. a platoon is usually composed of 42 people.
Unlike Heartbreak Ridge, Platoon is the bleak and dirty side of war.
The director of this movie, Oliver Stone, also wrote the movie, based on his own experiences. This "Platoon" is in Viet Nam. This movie holds no punches and is a brutal look at war. Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) quits college to join the Army. He soon realizes it is not what he thought it would be. In addition to the marijuana shared among the men, he finds brutal slayings and torture. When men of his own troop rape two Viet Namese girls, he is shocked and disgusted. Things get worse however.
Illegal murders, war casualties, betrayals, and more. All the while Taylor trying to come to terms with what is going on around him. This movie isn't just about the horrors of war but what those horrors can do to an ordinary, God fearing young man...how they can sometimes turn him into a vicious animal.
It is a hard movie to watch at times but is rated as the best movie ever written about the Viet Nam War. If you're a fan of war movies, you have to put this on your list.
Full Metal Jacket
Full Metal Jacket is an adaptation of a 1979 novel "The Short Timers". It was filmed in 1987, almost entirely in England. The cast was a stellar one including; Joker (Matthew Modine), Animal Mother (Adam Baldwin), Gomer (Vincent D’Onofrio), Eightball (Dorian Harewood), Cowboy (Arliss Howard), and D.I. (Lee Ermey) who views the would-be devil dogs as grunts, maggots or something less. (taken from http://kubrickfilms.warnerbros.com/video_detail/fmj/) It is said Viet Nam war veteran Lee Ermey was first hired as a technical advisor but so impressed the director (Kubrick) with his stream of invectives that he was hired to play the drill sergeant.
The movie follows Marines through their basic training and then two Marines through the 'Tet Offensive'. Basic training sees the breakdown of a Marine recruit who is referred to as Pyle (after Gomer Pyle). After being hazed and beat by his fellow Marines he becomes a model Marine (while talking to his rifle). Things escalate and the outcome is not good for Pyle. I won't detail this part of the story because it will ruin it if you're going to see the movie.
Private 'Joker' is assigned as a war correspondent after basic training and sent to Da Nang. As he goes into battle things escalate when the platoon commander is killed by enemy fire, a squad leader is killed by a booby trap, a sniper takes down another...
Full Metal Jacket Reviews
Roger Ebert, in a 1987 review said the stages and sets do not compare to the realism seen in movies like Platoon.
''Full Metal Jacket,'' Mr. Kubrick's harrowing, beautiful and characteristically eccentric new film about Vietnam, is going to puzzle, anger and (I hope) fascinate audiences as much as any film he has made to date. (New York Times, June 26, 1987)
The Globe and Mail (Toronto), Jay Scott; May be the best war movie ever made...Different is Kubrick's artistry and control, and his almost perverse, but philosophically progressive, refusal to impart to chaos a coherent narrative contour.
From commonsense media.com;
Is it any good?
Although this is a film about the Vietnam War, it could just as easily be about current events. The ugly realities of war, and what soldiers have to go through before they even get there, are a timeless theme, and Full Metal Jacket looks at the whole picture.
There isn't a lot of plot -- the soldiers go from training to war and they fight for their lives -- but the relationships among the men and the extremity of the situation they're in are riveting. The film captures both the excitement and the tedium of war, but ultimately loses something by not having a stronger storyline and a stronger leading man. Modine is a good actor, but he is something of a cipher here. We don't know enough about him to care deeply for him, but he is the moral center of the film. It's a well-made film that is powerful and still relevant, but it somehow doesn't quite deliver what it seems it could. Also, it's way too violent for kids, so share this one with older teens only.
As you can see reviews are very mixed about this one. You'll have to see it for yourself to decide.
I really wanted to add more quotes to these movies but it seems the newer movies contain a little more vulgarity than hub pages will allow. It was difficult finding quotes I could use here. It was almost impossible to find a video clip that wouldn't be banned either!
I know I didn't do these movies justice. They are more realistic than war movies made in the forties and fifties and give you a better view of what life is like in war. I hope what you read here has encouraged you to see at least one of these movies.
Please leave your comments and suggestions. Its always good to hear what others think both about my hub and about the movies here.
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