The Michigqn Daily
Friday, September 11, 1987
By John Shea
months, Platoon and Jacket gave the old addage: young men die, lives
audiences riveting accounts of what. are forever changed.
War is hell.
Okay. Now tell us
The sad and most unfortunate
dilemma of the latest account of the
Vietnam war, Hamburger Hill, is
that it follows in the footsteps of
Oliver Stone's Platoon and Stanley
Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. Both
released within a span of seven
it was like to fight in the war.
Is anyone up for a third? The
answer is: probably not. And that's
too bad, because Hamburger Hill is
in its own way a very good film.
Shot documentary-style, Hill
depicts the bloody encounter between
the 101st Airborne Division and the
enemy at the base of Dong Ap Bia
(designated Hill 937). Director John
Irvin (Turtle Diary, Tinker, Tailor
Soldier, Spy ) offers no rebuttle to
What Irwin does that seems
cliched - but somehow comes off
as being fresh -is focus on the
tight bonds of friendships between
the young men. Instead of using the
battlefield as a place to explore the
darkest corners of man (see Kubrick)
or as a stage to play a battle between
Good and Evil (see Stone), Irwin
uses Vietnam as an opportunity to
show how those who fought in the
war would go any extent to protect
their buddies in the rear.
A fine ensemble cast, headed by
Anthony Barrile and Michael Patrick
Boatman, manages not only to
maintain our interest inspite of the
Platoon overkill, but evoke a certain
amount of sympathy; not a small
accomplishment, considering we've
been Platooned and Jacketed to
How many Vietnam movies
have we seen in the last decade? 10?
15? Two dozen? It doesn't matter,
because all of them say the same
thing: war is hell. We have become
numb to the message. Like college
basketball and U2, Vietnam films
have fallen by the wayside of
overkill. "War is hell." Yeah, yeah.
This wave of Vietnam films from
Hollywood has now run its course,
and it is sadly ironic: the most
positive, reaffirming film made on
Vietnam and its veterans to date -
the film perhaps most veterans will
want the American audiences to see
- will die a quiet death at the box
St t o! Sep
to 8 L
prig Sol 4© ' Ia
Languilli (Anthony Barrile) is comforted by Sgt. Frantz (Dylan McDer-
mott) in the new film 'Hamburger Hill.'
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