Study Guide

Platoon Death

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War is death, plain and simple.

While Platoon definitely shows a lot of the big sleep, it also explores the ways in which different characters face of the reality of death in the first place. The film presents death in Vietnam as a near certainty (Taylor's entrance at the beginning is very much presented as an entrance into an underworld where everybody is already dead), the escape from which is nothing short of a miracle. Some guys make it, others don't. Some guys are afraid of it (Taylor, Junior), while others don't seem to care (Bunny, Barnes).

Questions About Death

  1. In what ways are the members of the platoon already dead?
  2. How do you feel about Elias' death? And what do you make of the way it plays out?
  3. Is Barnes' death satisfying? Why or why not?
  4. What's the point of the scene at the end where the camera keeps showing us huge piles of bodies, and the pits they are being herded into?

Chew on This

The squalid, sweaty, dirty appearance of the soldiers throughout the film suggests that they already have a foot in the grave, that they are already dead.

The Vietnam of Platoon is soaked in death. The sheer number of enemies—enemy troops, booby traps, one's own fellow soldiers, and the jungle itself—suggests that the whole conflict is a gigantic beast who feasts on death.

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