- Written and directed by Oliver Stone.
Somebody once wrote: 'Hell is the impossibility of reason.' That's what this place feels like. Hell. I hate it already and it's only been a week. Some god-damn week, Grandma. The hardest thing I think I've ever done is go on point three times this week - I don't even know what I'm doing. A gook could be standing three feet in front of me and I wouldn't know it, I'm so tired. We get up at 5 am, hump all day, camp around four or five, dig a foxhole, eat, then put out an all-night ambush or a three-man listening post in the jungle. It's scary, 'cause nobody tells me how to do anything 'cause I'm new and nobody cares about the new guys. They don't even want to know your name. The unwritten rule is a new guy's life isn't worth as much 'cause he hasn't put his time in yet - and they say, if you're gonna get killed in the Nam, it's better to get it in the first few weeks, the logic being you don't suffer that much. If you're lucky, you get to stay in the perimeter at night and then you pull a three-hour guard shift, so maybe you sleep 3, 4 hours a night, but you don't really sleep. I don't think I can keep this up for a year, Grandma. I think I've made a big mistake comin' here...
Of course, Mom and Dad didn't want me to come here. They wanted me to be just like them. Respectable, hardworking, a little house, a family. They drove me crazy with their goddamn world, Grandma. You know Mom. I guess I've always been sheltered and special. I just wanna be anonymous like everybody else. Do my share for my country. Live up to what Grandpa did in the first war and Dad did in the second.
Well, here I am, anonymous all right, with guys nobody really cares about. They come from the end of the line, most of 'em. Small towns you never heard of: Pulaski, Tennessee. Brandon, Mississippi. Pork Bend, Utah. Wampum, Pennsylvania. Two years' high school's about it. Maybe if they're lucky, a job waiting for 'em back in a factory. But most of 'em got nothin'. They're poor. They're the unwanted. Yet they're fighting for our society and our freedom. It's weird, isn't it? At the bottom of the barrel, and they know it. Maybe that's why they call themselves 'grunts', cause a grunt can take it, can take anything. They're the best I've ever seen, Grandma. The heart and soul...
Maybe I finally found it way down here in the mud. Maybe from down here I can start up again and be something I can be proud of, without having to fake it, be a fake human being. Maybe I can see something I don't yet see, or learn something I don't yet know. I miss you. I miss you very much. Tell Mom I miss her too. Chris.
- New Year's Day, 1968. Just another day, stayin' alive. There's been a lot of movement near the Cambodian border, regiments of NVA moving across. A lot of little firefights and ambushes. We drop a lot of bombs and then we walk through the jungle like ghosts in a landscape.
- Day by day I struggle to maintain not only my strength but also my sanity. It's all a blur. I have no energy to write. I don't know what's right or 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.
- I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy, we fought ourselves, and the enemy was in us. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days. As I'm sure Elias will be, fighting with Barnes for what Rhah calls "possession of my soul." There are times since, I've felt like a child, born of those two fathers. But be that as it may, those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again. To teach to others what we know, and to try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life.
Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes
- [to a wounded soldier] Shut up! Shut up, and take the pain! TAKE THE PAIN!
- (pointing to a dead soldier) You all take a good look at this lump of shit. Remember what it looks like. You fuck up in a firefight and I goddamn guarantee you a trip out of the bush, in a body bag! Out here, assholes, you keep your shit wired tight at all times! (turns to Taylor) And that goes for you, shit-for-brains. You don't sleep on no fuckin' ambush! (turns to Junior) And the next sum'bitch I catch coppin Z's in the bush, I'm personally gonna take an interest in seein' him suffer. I shit you not. Doc, tag him and bag him!
- You talking about killing? Hmm? Y'all experts? Y'all know about killing? I'd like to hear about it, potheads. [takes pipe and sniffs] Are you smoking this shit so's to escape from reality? Me, I don't need this shit. I am reality. There's the way it ought to be, and there's the way it is. Elias was full of shit. Elias was a crusader. Now, I got no fight... with any man who does what he's told. But when he don't, the machine breaks down. And when the machine breaks down, we break down. And I ain't gonna allow that... in any of you. Not one. [hands pipe back and spits] Y'all love Elias. Oh, you wanna kick ass. Yeah. Well, here I am, all by my lonesome. And there ain't nobody gonna know. Six of you boys against me. Kill me. [pause] Huh. I shit on all of you.
- King: Hey, Taylor, how in the fuck you get here anyway? You look educated.
- Chris Taylor: I volunteered for it.
- King: You did what?
- Chris: I volunteered. I dropped out of college, told 'em I wanted the infantry, combat, Vietnam.
- Crawford: You volunteered for this shit, man?
- Chris: Believe that?
- King: You's a crazy fucker, giving up college?
- Chris: Didn't make much sense, I wasn't learning anything. I figured why should just the poor kids go off to war and the rich kids always get away with it.
- King: Oh, I see, what we got here is a crusader.
- Crawford: Sounds like it.
- King: Shiiit, you gotta be rich in the first place to think like that. Ever'body know, the poor always being fucked over by the rich. Always have, always will.
- [Smoking marijuana]
- Elias: First time?
- Chris: Yeah.
- Elias: Then the worm has definitely turned for you, man. Feel good?
- Chris: Yeah, it feels good. I got no pain in my neck now.
- Elias: Feelin' good's good enough.
- Bunny: Hey Junior, you ever smoke any shit?
- Junior: That's right dude. You see, ya'll been tryin' to keep the black man down and string him out on that shit. but time be comin' my man, the black man throw that yoke off. Simple, free your mind and your ass will follow.
- Bunny: Hey, I can dig it, man. When you smoke that shit everything kind of gets weird, you know what I mean? You heard that story about the gooks putting chemicals in the grass so we don't fight and we become pacifists?
- Junior: Yeah, but don't you worry Bunny, 'cos you's a killer anyway, man.
- Bunny: Yeah, but I still like a piece of pussy once in a while. Ain't nothing like a piece of pussy, 'cept maybe the Indy 500.
- Junior: The only way you get some pussy man, is if a bitch dies and wills it to you. And then, maybe!
- Elias: Barnes believes in what he's doing.
- Chris: And you?
- Elias: In '65, yeah. Now, no. What happened today is just the beginning. We're going to lose this war.
- Chris: Come on! You really think so? Us?
- Elias: We've been kicking other people's asses for so long I figure it's about time we got ours kicked.
- Chris: It's the way the whole thing works, people like Elias get wasted, people like Barnes just go on making up the rules any way they want. So what do we do? Sit in the middle and suck on it. We just don't add up to dry shit, King.
- King: Whoever said we did, man? All you got to do is make it out of here. It's all gravy, everyday the rest of your life, gravy.
- O'Neill: Bob, I got a bad feeling on this one, all right? I mean I got a bad feeling! I don't think I'm gonna make it outta here! D'ya understand what I'm sayin' to you?
- Barnes: Everybody gotta die some time, Red.
- Capt. Harris: Be advised, we got zips in the wire down here.
- Phantom Pilot: Roger your last, Bravo Six. Can't run it any closer. We're hot to trot and packing snake and nape, but we're bingo on fuel.
- Capt. Harris: For the record, it's my call. Dump everything you got left on my pos. I say again, expend all remaining in my perimeter. It's a lovely fucking war. Bravo Six out.
- Phantom Pilot: Roger your last, Bravo Six. We copy, it's your call. Get 'em in their holes down there, hang tough Bravo Six. We are coming cocked for treetops.
- Charlie Sheen - Chris Taylor
- Tom Berenger - Sgt. Barnes
- Willem Dafoe - Sgt. Elias
- Forest Whitaker - Big Harold
- Francesco Quinn - Rhah
- John C. McGinley - Sgt. Red O'Neill
- Richard Edson - Sal
- Kevin Dillon - Bunny
- Reggie Johnson - Junior Martin
- Keith David - King
- Johnny Depp - Gator Lerner
- David Neidorf - Tex
- Mark Moses - Lt. Wolfe
- Chris Pedersen - Crawford
- Tony Todd - Sgt. Warren
- Corkey Ford - Manny
- Ivan Kane - Tony Hoyt
- Paul Sanchez - Doc Gomez
- Corey Glover - Francis
- Bob Orwig - Gardner
- Kevin Eshelman - Morehouse
- James Terry McIlvain - Ace
- Dale Dye - Capt. Harris
- Oliver Stone - Alpha Company major in bunker
- The first casualty of war is innocence.
- The first real casualty of war is innocence. The first real movie about the war in Vietnam is Platoon.