The Vietnam War: In Writing vs. In Film
It’s the 1960’s imagine, you just cooked a nice savory roast for your family. The juicy aroma of the gravy fills the home. Your husband and the kids are sitting around watching Bewitched. However, your life has been turned upside down because your eldest son has been drafted into the Vietnam War. How will you know how he is doing? The only way any knows anything about the feelings the soldiers felt during the war were from the soldiers themselves. We have letters and from those letters we have literature and even later we have films. Both literature and film can paint pictures for readers to see. However, it seems that both “How To Tell A True War Story” by Tim O’Brien and the film Platoon directed by Oliver Stone do a fabulous job portraying the feelings during the war.
After reading “How To Tell A True War Story”, right away it is easy to realize that this is a made up person that the narrator has created. He has struggles trying to believe the other soldiers and sometimes even himself. Tim O’Brien in, “How To Tell A True War Story”, throws some curve balls. It seems that everyone wants to believe everything they hear about the war. These brave soldiers have been through hell and back. However, his attitude towards the war does not come across as bitter. In fact, it comes across in a way that says, “it is what it is, and we need to make the most of it”. He does not want to sugar coat anything. The attitude you need to have for war is to keep it real. He says,
“A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things they have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at...
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...ral, I mean. Nobody listens. Nobody hears nothing. Like that fatass colonel. The politicians, all the civilian types, what they need is to go out on LP. The vapors, man. Trees and rocks—you got to listen to your enemy” (O’Brien 3). Here readers can see that the soldiers do not have any admiration for their authority. There is a slight contrast in Platoon. In the film, Chris Taylor has more respect for those in command. He is worried that Barnes killed Elias and that right there shows that he cares about those in authority.
Overall, reading and seeing the films about the war are very different. Although in the film viewers see some very gory sights, I feel like reading it and getting to produce your own mental picture. There was a very specific scene in the writing when the boy is killing the baby buffalo. This is a good representation of how the war changes people.
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