Study Guide

Platoon Music (Score)

Music (Score)

You can summarize the score of this one in three words: "Adagio for Strings."

This piece, written by Samuel Barber in 1936, is arguably one of the saddest, most depressing, and yet most hauntingly beautiful pieces of music on the planet. It's pretty much the theme of the film, and it's played on numerous occasions. We hear as the soldiers march away from the burning village, we hear the troops are heading back towards the bunker complex, where Elias is eventually killed. We also hear as the helicopters are leaving and Elias is being chased by enemy troops, again near the end of the film as mountains of dead bodies are buried in mass graves.

The music is cued whenever something really crummy is about to happen, or has just happened, and it's the perfect accompaniment. While there isn't much else by way of music to counteract this very sad tune, there are some snippets of 60's classics that help a little bit. During his first visit to the Underground, the boys are smoking pot and listening to "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane, a dreamy song that is perfect for the dimly sit surroundings and the overall mood.

Sounds of the Sixties

While Chris Taylor is learning about marijuana, Bunny and Junior are listening to this Merle Haggard song ("Okie from Muskogee"). This is a perfect song for Bunny and represents a certain type of  southern guy who loves his Budweiser. It's also perfect because one of the lines in the song is "We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee." The point of the scene is to draw a contrast between the pot smokers (the "heads"), and the others (among which are Junior and Bunny).

Later on, during the same visit to the Underground, the guys are jamming a Smokey Robinson tune—"The Tracks of my Tears"—as they continue to get high and drunk. The use of songs from the 60s is a trademark of Oliver Stone's, and he always does it with aplomb.

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