One of Oliver Stone’s first films, Last Year in Viet Nam presents part of his personal experiences after coming back as a war veteran from the Vietnam war, trying to cope with terrible memories from the front and the recurring sensation of isolation, anguish, and alienation he felt while living in New York, still uncertain of what to do with his life.
I would also recommend Oliver’s amazing book Chasing the Light: Writing, Directing, and Surviving Platoon, Midnight Express, Scarface, Salvador, and the Movie Game.
Before the international success of Platoon in 1986, Oliver Stone had been wounded as an infantryman in Vietnam and spent years writing unproduced scripts while driving taxis in New York, finally venturing westward to Los Angeles and a new life.
Stone, now 73, recounts those formative years with in-the-moment details of the high and low moments: We see meetings with Al Pacino over Stone’s scripts for Scarface, Platoon, and Born on the Fourth of July; the harrowing demon of cocaine addiction following the failure of his first feature, The Hand (starring Michael Caine); his risky on-the-ground research of Miami drug cartels for Scarface; his stormy relationship with The Deer Hunter director Michael Cimino; the breathless hustles to finance the acclaimed and divisive Salvador; and tensions behind the scenes of his first Academy Award-winning film, Midnight Express.
Chasing the Light is a true insider’s look at Hollywood’s years of upheaval in the 1970s and ’80s.