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Casualties of War (1989)

Casualties of War (1989)

(p.194) Chapter 19 Casualties of War (1989)
Brian De Palma's Split-Screen
Douglas Keesey
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter looks at De Palma's foray into war films with Casualties of War (1989), a box-office failure which nevertheless remains one of his finest films. The film was De Palma's bid to make a serious film on an important subject that he cared deeply about. Based on an actual 1966 incident first reported in a 1969 New Yorker article, Casualties of War tells the story of a squad of American soldiers during the Vietnam War who kidnap, rape, and murder a Vietnamese peasant girl, Oahn (Thuy Thu Le). Of the five-man squad—Meserve (Sean Penn), Clark (Don Harvey), Hatcher (John C. Reilly), Diaz (John Leguizamo), and Eriksson (Michael J. Fox)—only Eriksson refuses to participate in the rape and murder, and it is he who brings charges against the men in the end.

Keywords:   Vietnam War, Casualties of War, war films, Vietnam War film, rape, murder

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