"The Platoon" and "The Sands of Iwo Jima".

Essay by blaircarstensCollege, UndergraduateA+, October 2003

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"The first real casualty of war is innocence (Platoon 1986)." Although this may seem to be the most imperative casualty, there are far worse fatalities in battle. Perhaps, with suffering there can be a positive outcome that can improve a person's mind and soul. In viewing these two war films, Platoon (1986) and The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), I have analyzed the similarities, differences, and the types of images these films have brought to the screen.

One such comparison between Platoon and The Sands of Iwo Jima is the harsh realization of one's innocence. These soldiers had to lose their innocence in order to survive the chaotic world of battle. For example, a quote from Sergeant John M. Stryker (John Wayne) educates his new recruits

by saying, "Before I'm through with ya you're going to move like one man and think like one man, if ya don't you'll be dead."

Although Stryker is disliked by his men for his unsympathetic training methods, his wisdom is demonstrated through his squad while fighting on the island of Iwo Jima. On the other hand, in Platoon the troops did lose their innocence, but at a much greater cost. In particular the new and inexperienced recruit, Chris Taylor, played by Charlie Sheen, quickly finds that he's truly fighting for his "strength and sanity."

Another strong comparison between these two films is the respect and the lack of admiration between fellow troops and higher ranked officers. In the beginning of The Sands of Iwo Jima there was little admiration for the relentlessly tough Marine Sergeant Stryker. The rebellious soldiers learn to respect Sgt. Stryker as a brave and heroic figure.

However, in Platoon the war between good and evil progresses as the troops lose reality. The squad is split between the good Sgt. Elias...