Disclosure and Criticism in the Vietnam War Movie of the 1980s: An Interpretive Study of Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket

By Rim Ktari.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Starting from the 1970s, cinema and filmmaking were viewed as a popular art to be respected, cherished and studied. Moreover, the cultural turn-about resulting from the rise of postmodernism around that decade pushed academics to grant status to historical representations depicted in war movies. This paper deals with three of the most realistic Vietnam War movies produced in the 1980s: Apocalypse Now (1979), Platoon (1986) and Full Metal Jacket (1987). The choice of these movies in particular can be explained by the common will of the respective filmmakers, Francis Ford Coppola, Oliver Stone and Stanley Kubrick to produce realistic versions of the Vietnam War (Corliss 60, Gilliat 2). The weight of the defeat and its repercussions on U.S. society incited these moviemakers to focus on the Vietnam War while involving their personal interpretations of the events. This paper aims at assessing the extent to which the filmmakers made use of reality in the three above-mentioned movies. As early as 1979, Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War movie, Apocalypse Now, was released. With the beginning of the 1980s and the presidency of Ronald Reagan, Vietnam was revisited but in a different more conservative mode. Thus, filmmakers directed a series of movies that had a common objective: to re-establish American supremacy by creating a fictional image of U.S. troops that fight the war but win it. The Rambo series and the Missing series made single actors, Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris respectively act out heroes able to take revenge against the Vietnamese for human losses. Paralleling this type of movies, an alternative, rather down-to-earth type of movies argued for a different vision of the Vietnam War. Filmmakers such as Oliver Stone in Platoon and Stanley Kubrick in Full Metal Jacket followed in Coppola’s footsteps in providing as many real facts as possible.

Keywords: Representational Style, Realistic Movie, Documentation, Uncovering the Truth, Disclosure, Critique

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp.189-202. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 811.757KB).

Rim Ktari

Teaching Assistant, Department of English, Higher Institute of Human Sciences-Jendouba, Tunis, Tunis, Tunisia

I have been working as a Teaching Assistant in the University of Jandouba at the Higher Institute of Applied Languages and Computer Sciences-Béja from 2004 to 2010. I have been responsible for the design, preparation, selection of course material, and lecturing undergraduate students.I have also acted as a co-ordinator of pedagogic affairs (in collaboration with several colleagues) of several courses. As far as my background is concerned, I had a B.A. in English language and literature from the University of Manouba, Faculty of Letters, Arts, and Humanities, Department of English in 2001. In 2004, I had an M.A.in English language and literature (civilization, major)with a paper entitled “Reality and Fiction in Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and Full Metal Jacket: The Making and Themes of Vietnam War Movies in the 1980s.” Currently, I am conducting an ongoing doctoral research with a dissertation entitled “The Bush Administration’s War on Terror and the Emergence and Development of the American Radical Protest Movement (2001-2006)”


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