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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Top Five Vietnam Movies of All-Time

Rather than try to find some obscure point about Platoon, a movie I'm not even sure if I've ever seen before until this most recent viewing, I haven't done a Top Five on this list in awhile, so how about a list that's been done a million times by a million different nerds just like myself.

The Top Five Vietnam Movies

There are really only 4 that I believe go above and beyond the norm, but I have never seen Casualties of War or Born on the 4th of July. Though I can't imagine Oliver Stone doing another Vietnam movie with Tom Cruise as his lead standing the test of time, there may be something to Casualties of War so maybe I should put that as #5 based on that … even though I've never seen it. Yeah, that would make a lot of sense.

5. Forrest Gump

Fantastic movie, but I don't think this qualifies as a Vietnam movie because only a small part of it relates to the war. Still, there's enough good Vietnam stuff in here for it to be part of the list. Some of this A+ film's finest moments come from the Vietnam parts, be they Bubba or Lt. Dan stories.

4. Platoon

Not nearly as good as Forrest Gump by any stretch of the imagination, but in terms of being a Vietnam movie, well, this is probably the best pure Vietnam movie I've seen. The only story line is about one company dealing with the war. Sure, you could read between the lines how Oliver Stone is trying to show the effects of alcohol versus marijuana on the human psyche, but because there's no other stories aside from the ones that stem from the actual combat in the country of Vietnam, this is a good one.

3. The Deer Hunter

This has even less Vietnam coverage than Gump, however, the whole movie is centered around the time 3 friends spend in the war, and the Russian Roulette scenarios that ensued. Though the Vietnam "war" sequence really just consisted of DeNiro blowtorching Charlie, the ramifications of "before they go" and "after they return" are much classier than anything Stone did in Platoon. Also, this is the first major motion picture made addressing the war, so it didn't have any prior film dos and donts to fall back on as others would.

2. Full Metal Jacket

This is bizarre because it gets so many points for the Boot Camp sequence which leads to Gomer Pyle's demise. The actual scenes from Vietnam may not be as good, but the first hour or so of this movie leading up to the trip to Vietnam is immaculate. Rare is the piece of film that's as good as that.

1. Apocalypse Now

What's so great is that the Vietnam War is merely the backdrop to a re-creation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. This isn't about Viet Cong. This is about madness in its purest form. Like Dante's Inferno, it's about going deeper and deeper into the madness and the Vietnam War is perfect setting for that. Oh, let's not forget that this movie still has the best actual Vietnam War sequences on film to date, and directors have now had decades to top it and have still failed.

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