Brothers in Arms: The Making of Platoon
Platoon was a sensation in 1986. A Vietnam war film made with a decade’s hindsight from the conflict, it broke away from the glorified depictions of US imperialism that propaganda films like The Green Beret displayed. It was a box office smash that won Best Picture and made stars of its vast cast. If it’s little discussed today, that might be because Oliver Stone’s career has repeated on anti-American themes with diminishing results, or because the film’s branch of anti-imperialism remains an example of sentimental machismo. Either way, it’s a film ripe for revisiting, but Brothers in Arms: The Making of Platoon, a Documentary won’t make viewers desperate to race to a repeat screening.
This behind the scenes documentary, directed by Paul Sanchez, who played Doc, is little more than a DVD extra. Cigar chomping actors reminisce on the good old days from their Hollywood mansions. Between the interviews are behind-the-scenes photographs and stock images to make the film feel more educational. Willem Dafoe, who gives the best performance in Platoon and arguably had the greatest career after, gives context to the Marcos coup that affected the film’s shoot in The Philippines, and who better?
This would appear to be the authorised version of the film’s making, but there are two conspicuous absences in this vast cast of creatives: one is Forest Whitaker, the other is Stone himself. Perhaps the latter absence is because Stone now seems more interested in Russia and Putin than in revisiting his past glories. Instead of Stone, Charlie Sheen is centred as the film’s guide though extensive interviews and narration – but he doesn’t have anything interesting to say. Sheen, like Johnny Depp (who also features), doesn’t have the insight or perspective to bring any jazz to his anecdotes. Brothers in Arms is sloppily edited, as though the crew were either too enraptured or too in the pocket of their famous contributors to cut out their rambling anecdotes. It’s funny that for a film narrated and ostensibly driven by Sheen, his footage is clearly filmed via webcam, and when he brings up his time as a child on the set of Apocalypse Now (his father, Martin Sheen, being the star of Francis Ford Copollas’ film), it does the unfortunate job of exposing Platoon’s own sentimentality, and how dull its making is in comparison. This is a film simply remembering “boys being boys”.
Brothers in Arms: The Making of Platoon is released digitally on demand on 5th October 2020 and also on DVD.
Watch the trailer for Brothers in Arms: The Making of Platoon here: