Plot – The biography of Ron Kovic. Paralyzed in the Vietnam war, he becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights, political activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for – Born on the 4th of July – Born on the 4th of July.
Directors- Oliver Stone
Released – 1989
Three times director Oliver Stone has transported us to the Vietnam war, each time taking an element of what he saw while fighting there and bringing it to the big screen. You have Platoon, the most conventional war movie which showed us what it was like for a solder, a ground zero and Heaven & Earth, which looked at the war from the perspective of the Vietnamese people. But for me, it’s his second of the trilogy that feels the most personal. Born on the Fourth of July, which was based on the life of Ron Kovic, and looks at the effects of war on a young man and all the physical and mental scars that war leaves behind.
Maybe because the plot based on Ron Kovic’s real experiences before, during and after the war and Cruises excellent acting and Stones own experience in the war, Born on the Fourth of July, doesn’t feel like a war film but a more coming-of-age movie based around a Marine who went from believing in the American dream and the honour of serving one’s country to someone so disillusioned with it all that he ends up protesting against not only the Vietnam war but also the establishment he felt had failed and lied to so many young men.
So convincing in the role is Cruise that after ten or so minutes you no longer see him as the mega-star he became but Kovic the damaged war veteran trying to find his place in the world. The only real downside to the film is how much it reminded me of Forrest Gump which I know isn’t its fault as it came out first, but Kovic’s story was clearly an inspiration for the characters of Sargent Dan and Jenny, as well as elements of Forrest’s story and each time I’d say the character was more memorable.
That being said, Born on the Fourth of July still proves to be a skilfully shot and told film, which explores the aftermath of war in more detail that other films show and remain the perfect follow on to the brutal Platoon.