|Born on the Fourth of July |
Actors: Tom Cruise, Kyra Sedgwick, Raymond J. Barry, Jerry Levine, Frank Whaley
Director: Oliver Stone
Genres: Drama, Military & War
Universal Born On The Fourth Of July (HD-DVD) — Tom Cruise delivers a riveting and unforgettable portrayal ofVietnam veteran Ron Kovic in Oliver Stone's Academy Award-winning masterpiece. Based on a true story, the acclaime... more »
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K. K. (GAMER)
Reviewed on 12/27/2018...
ALERT - You are ordering an HD-DVD item. This format can be played only in HD-DVD players (the discs will NOT play in regular DVD or Blu-Ray players). If you do NOT have an HD-DVD player, you should not order this item.
Oliver Stone grinds his axe fine
Brian Hulett | Oinklahoma | 01/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I didn't want to like this movie. I'm usually resistant to any film whose director grinds an ax so relentlessly as Oliver Stone has been known to, and never so obviously as with this film. But I recently ran across the NY Times list of 1000 best films, and "Born On the Fourth of July" is listed there. While any such list is naturally debatable, it caused me to want to see more of those on the list that I hadn't seen, and a satellite channel was running this film at a convenient time. I must say, the excellence of Stone's craftsmanship, and of Tom Cruise's performance, wore down my resistance to his message, although it took almost half of this lengthy biopic to get past my defenses.
What we have here is the true story of a man whose birthday coincides with that of his country, a young man who was properly raised to love all things American. His patriotism led him to volunteer for the Marine Corps and the Vietnam war in the late 1960s, where everything he had ever believed was challenged in the strongest possible terms. The watershed events that finally moved him from traditional all-out American patriot to an American who loves his country but distrusts the government and opposes war, however, were events that mostly followed that famously horrifying war, and said events were often as horrifying in their own way as the things he experienced in Vietnam.
This truly is an excellent film, no doubt about it. Stone, a Vietnam vet himself, frames his story expertly, brings out superb performances from all of his players, and included Mr. Kovic (on whose autobiographical book this film is based) at every stage of the production. The pacing of the tale is smooth and understandable for its nearly 2-1/2 hour length, and the viewer never has a serious problem wondering where Cruise's character is coming from emotionally or intellectually.
"Born On the Fourth of July" has proven to be the capstone of Oliver Stone's career, and was the performance that took Tom Cruise from teen idol to respected actor. No wonder, as Cruise at times does more in this film with a look than he had been able to accomplish with pages of dialogue earlier in his career.
As with almost any 'Nam film, the gore of battle and over-the-top filthy language of its scarred survivors mean that viewing it is more of a cathartic experience than a pleasant one, but beyond that my only nitpick is that one scene has some vets listening to Don McLean's "American Pie" in 1968, three years before the song was recorded. With that minor caveat, the film has given me a lot to think about. While I don't agree with Stone's politics, there is no question that he, Kovic, and others have arrived at their perspective honestly and forcefully, and this film serves as a fine record of a time in our country's history when we fought a second civil war of sorts. Men like Stone and Kovic are the living casualties of that time, and they deserve our respect."
Haunting and distrubing, but ultimately redemptive
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 10/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I avoided this when it came out in 1989 having seen Coming Home (1978) and not wanting to revisit the theme of paraplegic sexual dysfunction and frustration. I also didn't want to reprise the bloody horror of our involvement in the war in Vietnam that I knew Oliver Stone was going to serve up. And Tom Cruise as Ron Kovic? I just didn't think it would work.Well, my preconceptions were wrong.First of all, for those who think that Tom Cruise is just another pretty boy (which was basically my opinion), this movie sets that mistaken notion to rest. He is nothing short of brilliant in a role that is enormously demanding--physically, mentally, artistically, and emotionally. I don't see how anybody could play that role and still be the same person. Someday in his memoirs, Tom Cruise is going to talk about being Ron Kovic as directed by Oliver Stone.And second, Stone's treatment of the sex life of Viet Vets in wheelchairs is absolutely without sentimentality or silver lining. There are no rose petals and no soft pedaling. There was no Jane Fonda, as in Coming Home, to play an angel of love. Instead the high school girl friend understandably went her own way, and love became something you bought if you could afford it.And third, Stone's depiction of America--and this movie really is about America, from the 1950s to the 1970s--from the pseudo-innocence of childhood war games and 4th of July parades down Main street USA to having your guts spilled in a foreign land and your brothers-in-arms being sent home in body bags--was as indelible as black ink on white parchment. He takes us from proud moms and patriotic homilies to the shameful neglect in our Veteran's hospitals to the bloody clashes between anti-war demonstrators and the police outside convention halls where reveling conventioneers wave flags and mouth phony slogans.I have seen most of Stone's work and as far as fidelity to authentic detail and sustained concentration, this is his best. There are a thousand details that Stone got exactly right, from Dalton Trumbo's paperback novel of a paraplegic from WW I, Johnny Got His Gun, that sat on a tray near Kovic's hospital bed, to the black medic telling him that there was a more important war going on at the same time as the Vietnam war, namely the civil rights movement, to a mother throwing her son out of the house when he no longer fulfilled her trophy case vision of what her son ought to be, to Willem DaFoe's remark about what you have to do sexually when nothing in the middle moves.Also striking were some of the scenes. In particular, the confession scene at the home of the boy Kovic accidentally shot; the Mexican brothel scene of sex/love desperation, the drunken scene at the pool hall bar and the pretty girl's face he touches, and then the drunken, hate-filled rage against his mother, and of course the savage hospital scenes--these and some others were deeply moving and likely to haunt me for many years to come.Of course, as usual, Oliver Stone's political message weighed heavily upon his artistic purpose. Straight-laced conservatives will find his portrait of America one-sided and offensive and something they'd rather forget. But I imagine that the guys who fought in Vietnam and managed to get back somehow and see this movie, will find it redemptive. Certainly to watch Ron Kovic, just an ordinary Joe who believed in his country and the sentiments of John Wayne movies and comic book heroics, go from a depressed, enraged, drug-addled waste of a human being to an enlightened, focused, articulate, and ultimately triumphant spokesman for the anti-war movement, for veterans, and the disabled was wonderful to see. As Stone reminds us, Kovic really did become the hero that his misguided mother dreamed he would be.No other Vietnam war movie haunts me like this one. There is something about coming back less than whole that is worse than not coming back at all that eats away at our consciousness. And yet in the end there is here displayed the triumph of the human will and a story about how a man might find redemption in the most deplorable of circumstances."
Quaker Annie | 06/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another addition to our family library, which we keep filled with books that entertain and/or educate. This movie, however, is not for the younger kids nor for the weak of heart, but for older members of the family, especially kids who might have fallen for the "John Wayne is cool" view point of war (or in our day, perhaps Mortal Kombat is cool view point of life) OR the young pacifist who believes that those who go to war are bad. We're all so tenderly human, and that's what this movie shows. The reason some find this depressing, I think, is that it shows the loss of innocence of the man who wrote this autobiography, Ron Kovic, who goes to war during the Vietnam era longing to be a hero, and returns damaged emotionally and physically, and receives the welcome of a baby-killer. Note: When the book version of this movie was due to come out, back in the 70's, I was working in a bookstore. Long-haired ex-vets would come in, looking for the book and I (duh) didn't understand why they were so enthusiastic. The book was the first attention given to what the war experience did to those who fought in it, which later opened the doors for WWII veterans to be able to talk about the emotional horrors of war.I read the book, and years later watched the movie - either of these are incredible experiences - if you like Saving Private Ryan, you will want to watch this movie, too."