The Things They Carried Film Analysis

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Unveiling the Impact of War
“War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.” ­ Thomas Mann
War, in and of itself, creates memories that many soldiers discharged from service do not wish to talk about. However, the bottled ­up emotions many servicemen and servicewomen have because of their roles in the war creates a dilemma in that these veterans need to vent out their emotions. In the war novel The Things They Carried (1990) by Tim O’Brien, the story revolves around a fictional Tim O’Brien writing a war novel about a fictional version of his fictional self, and his time in the Vietnam War. Likewise, Oliver Stone’s war film Platoon (1986) covers the story of recent recruit Chris Taylor, portrayed by Charlie Sheen; Taylor’s narrative
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However, Tim O’Brien instead uses fiction to get to the truth, and creates ­­ in a paradoxical fashion ­­ a more truthful telling, shaping the story to fit his own view. For example, Tim O’Brien dedicates the book “to the men of Alpha Company, and in particular to Jimmy Cross, Norman Bowker, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Henry Dobbins, and Kiowa” (1). By dedicating the book to entirely fictional characters, the author creates a mirage of truth that is wrapped around the novel, which allows for the reader to treat the novel as a nonfictional account, yet still be able to get to the truth and deliver a moral at the end. Likewise, Oliver Stone’s film also uses war stories for didactic purposes. In one instance, Chris Taylor refers to Vietnam as Hell, because as “somebody once wrote, ‘Hell is the impossibility of reason’” (Platoon). Stone’s intention is to get the notion that life as a soldier in Vietnam is very difficult to go through via Taylor’s dialogue. A documentary on Vietnam may still have been able to explain why Vietnam was disorganized and disjointed, but the documentary would only be able to explain it from a historical standpoint, whereas Stone has the ability to mold the image in the way he wants to portray it in. Both war stories achieve didaction because of their ability to present things in the manner the respective artist chooses to present them
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