Born on the Fourth of July
Release Year: 1989
Director: Oliver Stone
Writers: Oliver Stone (screenplay), Ron Kovic (screenplay and autobiography Born on the Fourth of July)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Caroline Kava, Raymond J. Barry, Kyra Sedgwick, Frank Whaley, Jerry Levine, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Stephen Baldwin
Rating: Won 2 Oscars: Best Director, Best Film Editing. Nominated for 6 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor (Tom Cruise), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Score.
Based on the life of Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise). An idealistic young patriot who was paralysed in the Vietnam war and became an anti-war and pro-human rights activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for.
Made in between Platoon (1986) and Heaven & Earth (1993), Born on the Fourth of July is the second installment in Oliver Stone’s Vietnam trilogy and focusses on the growing anti-war sentiment and protest in U.S. during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Told through the eyes of Ron Kovic, who himself turned from idealistic volunteer to dedicated anti-war protester, the film gives a first hand account of the complicated feelings many veterans experienced when returning from service, whether physically or psychologically scarred, or both. Cruise (Top Gun, 1986) gives an excellent performance for which he received his first Oscar nomination out of three so far. His character has an all-American childhood with baseball, neverending Summer, and Fourth of July fireworks, captured with a heart-warming nostalgic hue. Engolfed by the optimism and patriotism of the Kennedy years, Kovic volounteers, and survives several tours of horrifying warfare, until one day everything goes horribly wrong. Kovic is paralyzed and mentally marked by what he has witnessed, but still returns with his support of the cause intact. It isn’t until he sees how anti-war protesters are treated, and how he himself is treated, that his sympathies shift, along with his growing mental problems. As is usual with Stone, the film is cut weirdly, and despite its long running time, the final act feels rushed, but Born on the Fourth of July is still a very good film that weighs in on one of the most controversial, complex, and harrowing American wars of the 20th Century. Highly recommended and a must-see for Vietnam war buffs.
Screenwriter Ron Kovic, on whose autobiography the film is based, gave Tom Cruise his Bronze Star for his performance in the film.
Picture Copyright: UIP