MovieChat Forums > Go Tell the Spartans (1978) Discussion > Go Tell The Spartans/Apocalypse Now/P...

Go Tell The Spartans/Apocalypse Now/Platoon


How would most of you compare this film to Apocalypse Now or Platoon?
it's not as well known as those two or The Deer Hunter or Full Metal Jacket, but I like the fact this film is so low key, gives what is probably a fairly accurate portrayal of military operations and day to day life, and sticks to realism for the most part IMHO and isn't quite so well overblown as most other Vietnam war films. I love Apocalypse Now, but for me it's just not as nicely concise as Go Tell The Spartans, any thoughts?

reply

C'mon people! someone out there must have an opinion about this!

reply

[deleted]

I dont think you can compare this to the other two movies... for starters the plot lines are completely differnt... in fact, based on plot lines, you cant compare these 3 movies against each other... the only real connection is that they both deal with Vietnam... at best you can compare this movie to Good Morning Vietnam and Seige on Fire Base Gloria...

its similar to GMV due to the out-look of the commanders and politicians... lots both movies touched on numbers and body counts (in round about ways)

and its similar to SoFbG based on the fact that they were trying to hold their position against superior forces...

but with platoon and Apocalypse... forget it... there is no meaningful comparison

reply

cumax,
Most of the Vietnam veterans I have met say that Go Tell the Spartans is the most realistic movie ever made about the war.

reply

I have an uncle that was a major in VietNam from 1965-67 (pretty sure of those dates, but possibly 64-66) and this is the only film on the subject I have ever heard him speak highly of.

reply

To "Apocalypse Now": AN (to me) is split into two halves: 1st,up to the sampan scene- this is the Vietnam war; 2nd- from Do Lung Bridge on- a Vietnam adaptation of Heart of Darkness. It was a high budget telling of a odyssey style journey through the VN war circa 1969/1970. The Viets themselves are auxiliary characters who either civilians on the side or the VC/NVA enemy forces. It was filmed in the Philipine Islands to get the SEA jungle look with Filipino Army Co-operation. Filmed shortly a few years after the war ended and the original version is much harsher and darker than the later "Redux" release.
"Platoon": Oliver Stone taking his experiences from his time in Vietnam, (based upon what I have read from an interview with him) dramatizing them, and compressing them into a shorter time period to tell the story of a single small unit in late 1967. Again, the Viets incidental to the story as civilians or enemy only.It had a moderate budget and was filmed in the Philipine Islands with Filipino Army support. Filmed during the mid 80s when attitudes on Vietnam had started to change.
"Go Tell The Spartans": Filmed in California on a low budget around the same time as "Apocalypse Now" with no military support. It tells the story of a few professional military advisors in 1964 who are seeing the war change as draftees begin to arrive. The Viets figure large in the story as both the enemy, and as comrades of a sort- soldiers being trained/advised/led and the political element needing to be schmoozed.
It works in spite of its limitations and the time when it was filmed. While it could have certainly used more polishing and technical clean up, it was a film ahead of its time telling a tale from a little remembered/known portion of that long war.

reply

I like Platoon in that, Dale Dye, put everyone through a mini boot camp so the actors looked like soldiers. In GTTS, everyone had a clean white face and a clean uniform. Even their name tags were shiny white. The uniforms were not drenched in sweat and everyone looked like they slept in a hotel.
GTTS was good but since the budget was low they could only do so much.
Apocalypse Now was good because of the lines that stayed in my memory. My favorite was in the hotel room when Sheen said that the longer he stayed in the hotel room he got weaker and the longer that Charlie squatted in the jungle he got stronger. I guess a version of that which does not kill you makes you stronger.
As far as Full Metal Jacket, I liked it because of R. Lee Ermy. If I would have seen the movie in 1968, I would have joined the Marines.
Above all my favorite is Patton!

reply

For me, Apocalypse Now (one of my top 10 favorite movies ever) uses Vietnam but is not really "about" it in the way that Platoon or the later Full Metal Jacket are. However, Go Tell the Spartans, along with The Boys in Company C, are two pre-Platoon entries that are among the best war movies I know of. All I can say of Go Tell the Spartans is that if you haven't seen it, find it and watch it. It's great. And unlike The Boys in Company C, it has the benefit of one of the last great Hollywood movie stars, Burt Lancaster, who lives up to his stature with an unforgettable performance as a slightly disgraced career military man in a second rate war (his comparison of Vietnam to WWII is priceless). I actually prefer both Spartans and Company C to Platoon. In the end, Platoon is a better produced, more polished movie with probably 10 time the budget of its two predecessors, but they stand up against it very very well.

Apocalpyse Now is a "Romantic" revisoning of The Heart of Darkness and is far more interested in its allegorical implications than any fidelity to Vietnam. The irony is that it probably captures the absurdity and horror of the actual Vietnam experience as well or better than anything else. I've always thought of AN as a sort of cinematic acid trip, and I think it is a masterpiece, albeit a failed one, but that's the nature of real Romantic art, to overrach its boundaries until it crashes.

Allow me to take this oportunity to warn anyone who has yet to see AN to avoid the so-called director's cut Apocalypse Redux. I don't care what Coppola or anyone else says, it is a vastly inferior version. The added scenes are interesting as set pieces, but they utterly destroy the tone and pace of the original composition and totally undermine some of its best sequences (like Duvall's scene on the beach). Whatever you do, watch the theatrical version first, and then you can watch the other if you wish.

I've never really appreciated The Deer Hunter. I missed it when it came out and have never watched it from beginning to end, although I know I should. Nonetheless, I don't have a basis to include it in any comparison.

reply

Apocalypse Now is an art film, it`s not about the Vietnam War, it copied a story about a tale in the Congo... A 300lbs colonel living in Cambodia undefeated from the NVA.. Hmm that`s realistic?

reply

As has already been pointed out in this thread, these are all very different films.

AN (set in 1969) is really a vehicle through which to present the Heart of Darkness theme. It is an artistic achievement and has many more aspects going for it. Budget (naturally),location for shoot (Philippines), tech advisors, good actors, gifted director etc. Note the subtle differences in Martin Sheen's tiger stripe uniform and that worn by Sgt Oleo in GTTS. The former being proper and the latter being one of the commercial surplus store varieties. Although, it is a fact that numerous versions of tiger stripe were locally produced in VN, the most common version was that used in AN. That said, I don't think it was widely used by MAAG personnel. The general refers to it as "tiger stripe, Frenchified uniforms..." The general likely means that the uniform was inspired by the French one. However, the famous French uniform worn by the paras was known as "lizard Cam" and looked fairly different than the VN "tiger stripe" cam.

Platoon (set in 1968) has a lot of good going for it in terms of tech advice, uniforms, budget, actors etc. Unfortunately it seems to compress years worth of atrocities for at least a whole battalion into one platoon. Yes, Stone was a VN vet, but, he can still be a bit of a weirdo with a socialist's POV.

GTTS (set in 1964) is one of the early attempts at a VN film and tells the story about the period of advisors. I just watched it again over 30 years after the first time and appreciate it a little better. I was very hard on it when I first saw it. Throughout high school in the late 70s and into early 80s, I voraciously read everything I got my hands about the war. On the second viewing I've relaxed my harsh stance and try to see it for what it is. Too bad about the lousy budget -it comes across as made for TV. This is one that could really do with a remake. Aside from budget there were some very simple aspects that drag it down: mainly the late 70s disco hairdos. Typical of the 70s, actors hated the idea of getting their hair cut in a realistic style. Arrogant filmmakers, contemptuous of the audience, felt they (audience) were too stupid to notice the long hair pushed behind ears.

As for the best VN film? All vets from VN I've talked to over the years felt that Hamburger Hill (set in 1969) was the most accurate until We Were Soldiers (set in 1965)came out. WWS gets a lot of flak, but, it was a good effort. Hal Moore (the Battalion Commander at the battle) was the tech advisor. Much was done right. What helps is that both these films are presenting actual battles.

reply

Never liked Platoon - always seemed a bit silly to me. Apocalypse Now I think is a great film but I'm not sure it's the best film about the Vietnam war.
I think this film, Full Metal Jacket and We Were Soldiers are amongst the best about the war. It seems Go Tell The Spartans has been forgotten - maybe too early and too philosophical to be a hit when released. I don't understand why We Were Soldiers never seems to be mentioned in these discussions. It was very close to the first half of the book and I've always thought/assumed brutally realistic.

reply