OLIVER STONE
By Jason O'Brien
jaobrien@charter.net









Do you remember when things made sense? Things you could count on? Before we all got so lost.
BORN ON THE
FOURTH OF JULY (1989)

Starring Tom Cruise, Willem Dafoe, Kyra Sedgwick
Written by Oliver Stone and Ron Kovic, adapted from the book by Ron Kovic
Producers: A. Kitman Ho and Oliver Stone
Cinematography: Robert Richardson
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Winner of two Academy Awards, including Best Director (also nominated for Best Picture)

With his next film in 1989, Born on the Fourth of July, Stone continued his film study of the Vietnam War with the film that I consider to be the best film that has ever been made about the Vietnam War. With this film, Stone looked at the war at home - the film spends very little time on the battlefield in Vietnam, but instead focuses on the return of one particular Marine to the States and the war he faces there, which almost was sadder and more tragic than the the actual one in Vietnam.

The film is based on the true story of Ron Kovic, a young, naive man who went to Vietnam in the noble efforts of serving his country - once there, he was shot in the chest and was forever paralyzed. He returned to a United States which didn't believe in the war, and didn't believe in him. He soon grows embittered with life, losing his chances to be a man, condemned to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He eventually joins the anti-war movement, gets thrown out of the Republican Convention where Richard Nixon is speaking, and finally is allowed to speak at the Democratic National Convention in 1976. The film is epic in its scope, telling the whole story of Kovic's experiences growing up, going off to war, and emerging as a strong voice against the Vietnam War and the government's policies there. Tom Cruise gives one of the greatest performances by an actor that has ever existed on the screen in this film - he was robbed when the Academy neglected to give him the Best Actor award that year. With this film, Stone brought a stronger vision and political stance than he had done in Platoon, and took his new stand as a historical dramatist. Even if you put aside the politics of the film, Stone's story of a young man with dreams of a great life having to face a life where the dreams are lost forever is one of the most tragic and dramatic story structures that exist - that similar theme was used with Michael Corleone is the Godfather films. The film is by far one of Stone's best, with an emotional film score by John Williams. This film represented the beginning of a new film relationship between Stone and Williams - so far, Williams has scored three of Stone's films. This film dealt with the much more controversial and tragic issue of the war the veterans faced when they came home - it's been mutually agreed upon that Vietnam was a mistake - with this film, Stone attempted to make the statement that maybe its time the United States, its people, and its government admit it made an even huger mistake when the veterans returned home, to a torn country - where was their home?

LINKS:
Visual Remembrances From Born on the Fourth of July
Behind the Scenes Images from Born on the Fourth of July
Complete Detailed Film Data on Born on the Fourth of July at the Internet Movie Database
Roger Ebert's Review of Born on the Fourth of July
Vietnam Veterans Interactive Home Page
Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc.


This Page Last Updated:
10/19/2008

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