A QUOTATION AGAINST A BLACK SCREEN:
'REJOICE, O YOUNG MAN, IN THY YOUTH ...'
The sound now of a C-130 air cargo plane roaring over us and we
cut sharply to:
EXT.AIRSTRIP - BASE CAMP - VIETNAM - DAY
As the C-130 coasts to a stop, the hatch rotating down on a hot,
dusty lifeless airstrip somewhere in Vietnam. Nothing seems to
live or move in the midday sun.
A DOZEN NEW RECRUITS step off the plane, unloading their duffel
bags, looking around like only the new can look around, their
hair regulation-clipped, crisp, new green fatigues fitting them
CHRIS TAYLOR is just another one of them - as he turns into a
tight closeup, to look at a motorized cart pulling up alongside
... He's about 21. Newmeat. His face, unburned yet by the sun,
is tense, bewildered, innocent, eyes searching for the truth.
They fall now on a heap of BODY BAGS in the back of the cart.
Two soldiers begin loading them onto the plane. Flies - hundreds
of flies - buzz around them, the only cue to their contents.
(next to Chris, Southern accent)
That what I think it is?
I guess so ...
An uncomfortable look between them.
Okay, let's go ...
As they move out, Chris' eyes moving with the body bags being
loaded onto the plane. Moving over now to a motley HALF DOZEN
VETERANS bypassing them on their way to the plane. They look
happy. Very happy, chatting it up.
They pass the newboys - and they shake their heads, their eyes
full of an almost mocking pity.
Well I'll be dipped in shit - new meat! Sorry bout
that boys - 'sin loi' buddy ... you gonna love the
Nam, man, for-fucking-ever.
Chris looking at them. They pass, except for the last man who
walks slower than the rest, a slight limp. His eyes fall on
They're frightening eyes, starved, hollow, sunken deep in his
face, black and dangerous. The clammy pallor of malaria clings
to him as he looks at Chris through decayed black teeth. Then
the sun flares out on him and he's past. And Chris looks back.
Disturbed. It's as if the man was not real. For a moment there.
As if he were a ghost.
Chris walking, duffel bag on the shoulder, looks up at the
lollipop sun burning a hole through the sky. A rushing SOUND
now. Of frightening intensity, an effect combining the blast of
an airplane with the roar of a lion as we hardcut to:
EXT. JUNGLE - SOMEWHERE IN VIETNAM - DAY
The sun matches the intensity of the previous shot as we move
down into thick green jungle. We hear the sound of MEN coming, a
lot of men. The thwack of a machete. Brush being bulled. We
wait. They are getting close.
The CREDITS continue to run.
December 1967 - Bravo Company, 25th Infantry
Division - Somewhere near the Cambodian Border.
A sweating white face comes into view. CHRIS - cutting point.
Machete in one hand, whacking out a path for the platoon, M-16 in
the other, he looks like he's on the verge of heat exhaustion.
Breathing too hard, pacing himself all wrong, bumping into
things, tripping, not quite falling, he looks pathetic here in
the naturalness of the jungle. An urban transplant, slightly
neurotic and getting more so.
His rucksack is coming apart as well, about 70 badly packed
pounds banging noisily.
Behind him BARNES now comes, the Platoon Sergeant. Then the RTO,
his radio man, humming lightly. Others are behind, the column
snaking back deep into the brush.
We cut around some FACES of the Platoon - all to be seen later.
Young faces, hard and dirty after weeks in the field, exhausted
yet alert, fatigues filthy, slept-in, torn, personalized, hair
way past regulation length, medals, bandanas. A jungle army.