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USA 1987
Directed by
Francis Ford Coppola
111 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

Gardens Of Stone

It it remarkable that this tedious and predictable Vietnam war homily in the Fordian tradition was made by the director of one the greatest anti-war films of all time, Apocalypse Now (1978), for it lacks either intimacy or grandeur and despite strong performances from James Caan and Anjelica Huston, sinks under dull scripting by Ronald Bass and uncharacteristically pedestrian direction by Coppola.

The title refers to Arlington National Cemetery, the armed forces cemetery tended by The Old Guard, an elite Army unit led by decorated veterans all of whom are acutely conscious of being toy soldiers whilst their peers duke it out with Charlie in Vietnam. The story revolves around an ambitious young recruit (D. B. Sweeney), his immediate superior (Caan) and the sergeant above him (James Earl Jones) and the women in their lives. Perhaps the novel by Nicholas Proffitt on which this was based had more depth but this sentimental and sanitized film does little more than too tidily contrast the paternalistic tough love of Uncle Sam with a variety of hawk and dove attitudes.

Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, which was released the same year, gave a much more affecting account of war's cost in young lives.




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