For most Americans, the name “Oliver Stone” is synonymous with “conspiracy” and “scandal.” He has directed 12 major films that have made American’s rethink their opinions on our government, our society, and ourselves. Stone is easily among the best filmmakers in American movie history. Oliver Stone was born September 15, 1946 in New York City. In the 1960s, America became involved in a conflict in Vietnam, and many people Stone’s age began enrolling in college primarily to avoid entering the war. Stone did the exact opposite when he dropped out of Yale to join the Army for the Vietnam War. In the war, Stone was awarded the Purple Heart for getting shot in the neck and the Bronze Star for single-handedly wiping out a machine gun nest with a grenade.
Stone’s experiences in the war, like many of his fellow soldiers, changed his life forever. Following his return to America, Stone enrolled at N.Y.U. to study film under another great filmmaker, Martin Scorsese. After Stone graduated, he began his career as a screenwriter. His early credits include 8 Million Ways to Die, Year of the Dragon, Scarface, Conan the Barbarian, The Hand, and Midnight Express, which earned him his first Oscar.
In 1986, Stone wrote and directed two more films: Salvador and Platoon. Salvador, although not especially praised or considered one of Stone’s greater films, introduced America to Stone’s political opinions. Platoon was based on Stone’s experiences in the Vietnam War, and reminded Americans of the war they tried to forget. That year, Stone received three Oscar nominations: Best Director (Platoon) and two “Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen” nominations (Platoon and Salvador). Stone won the Oscar for Best Director, and Platoon won the Oscar for Best Picture.
After he won his Best Director Oscar, Stone directed eight more films in ten years. Immediately after Platoon, Stone wrote and directed Wall Street and Talk Radio. Critics and audiences everywhere praised these films, and further established Stone as both a great writer and director. His next film Born on the Fourth of July, based on the life of Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic (who also co-wrote the script), has been regarded by many as a masterpiece and Stone’s best work. That year, Oscar again shined for Stone as he won his second Best Director Oscar. After his next film, The Doors, Stone his “Godfather” JFK, based on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the events surrounding it. This film established Stone as a conspiracy theorist and a controversial artist. Stone followed JFK with Heaven & Earth, concluding the trilogy of his Vietnam War films. He then made Natural Born Killers, a satirical vision of Americans’ views on mass murderers. As a result of the film, Stone was dubbed a violence-loving person, and was accused of inspiring the deaths of ten people. Stone followed with his “Godfather II”, Nixon, which showed the country that Richard Nixon, one of the most enigmatic Presidents ever, actually loved the country and its people, but would commit illegal acts for it. Two years later he directed U-Turn, and then, two years after that, directed Any Given Sunday, his view on modern football.
Throughout Stone’s busy schedule in the 1990s, he managed to produce and write other movies too. He produced Iron Maze, South Central, Zebrahead, The Joy Luck Club, Freeway, The People vs. Larry Flint, Savior, and The Corruptor, and wrote Evita.
Even though Stone has made movies that may seem anti-American, he still loves America. A true patriot is a person willing to save their country from itself, which is what Stone attempts to do with his films. People who oppose Stone say he abuses his freedom of speech with his often violent and controversial films. However, Stone is one of the few people who uses their freedom of speech, and, with that, tries to warn Americans that if we are unwilling to change, our country will fall.