Platoon is a 1986 war film written and directed by Oliver Stone and starring Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe and Charlie Sheen, with an early appearance of Forest Whitaker and a small supporting turn from Johnny Depp. It is the first of Stone’s Vietnam War trilogy.

Platoon is based on Stones own experiences while serving in the infantry in Vietnam.  The characters and scenarios are all collections of various people he met and things he witnessed, heard of or actually did while there serving in a few different units in Vietnam.

Platoon was filmed on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, starting in February 1986. The production of the film on a scheduled date was almost canceled due to the political upheaval in the country with then-dictator Ferdinand Marcos, but with the help of a producer well-known in Asia, Mark Hill, the shoot went on as scheduled. The shoot lasted 54 days and cost $6.5 million. The production made a deal with the Philippine military for the use of military equipment.

Actor Willem Dafoe was was qouted as saying:

I was in my hotel room in Manila, I had arrived a few days before everyone else, anyway I decided to lay down a take a nap because I was jet lagged.  I woke up 3 hours later and looked out my window and there were tanks rolling down the street. The  revolution had started while I was napping.

Upon everyone arriving in the Phillipines, the entire cast underwent a two week, intensive boot camp in the jungle coordinated and lead by former Marine Captain (A Mustang)   Dale Dye, and succeeded in giving the actors a very ragged, worn out look. This is something Stone was obsessive about as according to him:

You cant just tell an actor to be an Infantry soldier. It doesnt work like that. They have to experience it.

Platoon is an absolute classic film. It is easily in the top 5 films in the war genre and the performances in it made or began many careers. Although it is about the Army in Vietnam as opposed to Full Metal Jackets Portrayal of Marines, somehow it seems to have much more heart and soul than some other great war films. If you have not seen it, get on it.

The First Casualty of War is Innocence