MovieChat Forums > Gardens of StoneĀ (1987) Discussion > You've all missed a critical point

You've all missed a critical point

I've read all the reviews here and all the postings and not a single person has gotten the major point of this film.

I'm going to ask two questions and leave it at that. No spoilers here, just two questions.

How did you feel at the beginning of the film?

How did you feel at the end of the film?

Remember, you're seeing the same thing at the start and end of this movie.

Why would you react differently? (ok, three questions.)

If you don't get it, you won't ever get it.


Jackie was unknown to us at the beginning of the film.

You don't feel much for him. He is another name on the wall, or a margin in a newspaper. But that is what Coppola wants to show you...

He is not a nameless, faceless grunt. As you watch the film you will find he is a gentle, kind, idealistic Soldier with his own dreams and ambitions and goals in life and love.

This is not some epic VICTORY cry on the billboards. Coppola is wanting to give you a glimpse of the Everyman who fought in Vietnam. To show that they had family and friends who believed in them, supported them, and would miss them.

Even if you are against war, you should watch this movie...and remember that young men and women die for your rights to protest and rally.


"How did you feel at the beginning of the film?"

Bad. Because the dialog was so bad.

"How did you feel at the beginning of the film?"

I didn't see the end because I stopped watching after 10 minutes. Didn't want to waste my time.

They don't give you the leads, they don't give you the support, they don't give you dick. (Dave Moss)


If you didn't see the end of the movie why would you bother to post then, besides feeling like a smart ass?

Just Enjoy


"If you didn't see the end of the movie why would you bother to post then, besides feeling like a smart ass?"

Easy to say. I like Coppola's films - the good ones of course ("The Conversation" mainly). So I don't understand how he can be involved in such a turkey. Same goes for James Caan whom I like to see very much (best roles maybe in "Slither" and "Misery").

They don't give you the leads, they don't give you the support, they don't give you dick. (Dave Moss)


Well as my grandad used to say "It's a fine line between smart ass and stupid prick." As the prior poster so aptly proved.


Chandler, you said "How did you feel at the beginning of the film?" twice, smart guy.

I'm the saddle.


Before I begin my post I'll add that I am a Navy Veteran (20 years/retired in 1992) and my 1st duty assignment was in D.C. in 1972 ... that said I'll offer this ...
The movie very authentic and the acting first rate. The movie gave an honest portrayal of the life of an elite Honor Guard unit in D.C. during the Vietnam War. Caan did his homework to make his character (Sgt Hazard) very real. D.B. Sweeney was equally superb in his portrayal of Willow.
Now how did I feel at the beginning ... I didn't feel anything in particular. The movie introduces the 'toy soldiers' of the Old Guard and those who train them to become real soldiers. The story seemed very realistic as it tells the story of Sweeney's character and his desire to be in the action (going to Vietnam) rather then being a bystander/spectator.
Caan and Jones played seasoned war hardened soldiers who had to tolerate the cynical nature of the Washington D.C. press corp.
At the end I felt sad that another soldier, Willow, had joined the list of soldiers who paid the ultimate price. Though it was a fictional movie I thought about his wife and the sorrow she felt.
'Gardens of Stone' was an honest movie. It took me back to a time when I was wondering about my life as a newly arrived sailor stationed in D.C.


I think what we all need to remember here is that Gardens of Stone is an adaptation from a book, and the book was better than the movie.

The first time I saw Gardens of Stone I was IN the Old Guard - I spent 7 years with the Fife and Drum Corps before I got out in 1999, so I recognized a lot of faces during the ceremony sequence on Summerall Field, as well as recognizing the inacuracies put in by Hollywood to try to dress it up a little bit. (The Old Guard fixes bayonets to the trandional beat of the drum, not the tradional beat of the salute gun battery aka "Guns Platoon" - that's at a differnet point of the ceremony)

It's an interesting place to be because you are in the Army, but you aren't doing "real" Army things...then again, as an Army bandsman, I never really did, but for an infantry guy, being ceremonial most of the time might prove to be a very challenging mindset. Some of the guys who got stationed in the Old Guard really chaffed at having to do ceremonial things so they would purposely fail their ROP training so they could get sent to the one platoon in the Old Guard that didn't do ceremonies - Recon Platoon, later called the Scout platoon. All they did was go out and train like a real scout platoon.

Again, the book did a much better job of describing what was going on with the characters and why Willow was so idealistic in his desire to be a real soldier - he felt that the right soldier at the right time could make history. What he forgot was that even the right soldier at the wrong time just gets chewed up and killed by the war machine - war doesn't discriminate.


Some of them must have gotten real bored with the ceremonies. I remember them being busted for drug use in the Old Guard after an investigation. Maybe a tour in Viet Nam would have made them appreciate what they had.

I remember going on board "Old Ironsides" in Boston. The men on board are real Navy personnel. One of them said it wasn't so glamerous in the winter time shoveling snow off the deck with no tourists in sight.


I sort of knew that it would end with a funeral of one of their own. But, I guess everyone thought that it would be clell--It would be a similar ending to "Mr.Roberts"


"'Gardens of Stone' was an honest movie. It took me back to a time when I was wondering about my life as a newly arrived sailor stationed in D.C."

I can imagine lots of veterans could identify with facets of this film.


Is that the major point of the film? It is one of them. But it isn't the only one.

Jackie Willow wanted more than anything to join the fraternity of soldiers who wear the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB). This is much better illustrated in the novel than in the film, but it's true. He also believed very firmly that the right soldier in the right place at the right moment can change the world.

He earned his CIB. He never got that moment because he died an empty death, fighting a war his country had no intention of winning.

And in the end, the "worst" soldier in his unit did change the world for some by being in the right place at the right moment, when Pvt Wildman was awarded the Medal of Honor for killing a bunch of bad guys and saving some of his fellow U.S. soldiers.

I didn't feel any differently at the beginning and end of the film, because I'd read the novel and I knew the story. You are correct that we don't get as interested or involved or feel as deeply the death of someone who is unknown to us. But that's not the only major point of the film.

Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Tarkin: Enough of this! Vader, release him!


At the begining of the film i thought "oh, its going to be yet another som soldier goes to vietnam and turns mad" like Apocalypse Now, but worse. (i liked Apocalypse Now btw)
At the end of the film i though that they arent going to show any vietnam after all and its more of a story of the guys service in the old guard, so good job tricking me.

My reaction wasnt much different, it was semi-confusion as i did not like how they just jumped the plot ahead very fast after a slow moving movie. Its like as if the movie had no 3rd act. Altrough i do admit that i was watching it in rather loud eviroment so i may have missed some dialogue.

Applied Science? All science is applied. Eventually.


I watched this movie again the other night (kind of nostalgia thing for me due to the fact that I was in the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corp (92-99) so some of the folks I knew there were in the movie) and something else really struck me.

Clell talks througout the movie about wanting to really train some of these kids to be soldiers with the idea of maybe saving a few of them. One of the kids he really cares about, and who he does make a point to train is Jack Willow. Unfortunately his training of Willow is for naught - Willow becomes a KIA casualty of Vietnam.

However, one of the other kids he made a point to train was Wildman, and in the crucible of battle, Wildman falls back on Hazard's training, not only saving himself, but many of his fellow soldiers as well, thus earning the Congressional Medal of Honor. In effect, Clell succeeded in his efforts, but not really as he'd intended.

My name is Gladiator - Maximus Decimus Meridius