Will America Succeed? An Interview with Oliver Stone, By Adrienne Papp
By Adrienne Papp
Oliver Stone is a household name. A master of controversial subjects in award winning movies, a legendary provocateur, a brilliant film-maker, director, writer and producer. Somewhat of a rebel, an influential visionary and a prominent portrayer of uncensored contemporary political and cultural issues, he does not beat around the bush about any issue. Why would he? He had his own battle fields to win not only as a war veteran who was awarded a Bronze Star for Gallantry and a Purple Heart, but also as a creative genius in Hollywood with a long list of films behind him, winning one Oscar after another.
His first win was for Midnight Express in 1978, but that was just the beginning of his expanding career and fame as a filmmaker.
In 1986 he directed the political film Salvador, starring Oscar-nominated James Woods. But his big hit was the Vietnam war film Platoon, starring Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, and Francesco Quinn. Stone then followed up with the critically acclaimed Wall Street . The movie, starring Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas, focused on the business world of tycoons and stock brokers. The film won an Oscar for Douglas’ portrayal of the villainous Gordon Gekko.
Stone then directed Tom Cruise in an Oscar-nominated role in Born on the Fourth of July for which Oliver Stone won an Academy Award for Directing, which was his third win to date. Later he took a hand in producing several movies, including the Academy Award-winning film Reversal of Fortune, which movie played a crucial role in my own life as well when I contacted Alan Dershowitz, a respected Professor of Law at Harvard University who represented Claus von Bülow (played by Jeremy Irons) on whose actual case the movie was based.
Oliver Stone then returned to the director’s chair in 1991, once again with two giant films in one year: Val KilmerJim Morrison starring as the legendary in Stone’s psychedelic film The Doors. The Doors was overshadowed by Stone’s colossal film JFK, which Stone himself considers the best of his films. In the film, Jim Garrison tackles the conspiracy behind the murder of America’s president John F. Kennedy. The large cast featured such well-known names as Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, John Candy, Joe Pesci, Donald Sutherland, and Walter Matthau.
Stone’s energy and commitment to his craft is extraordinary without a doubt. Besides the obvious wonder if the man ever sleeps, his list of movies whether as a producer, writer, or director seems endless. Or at least, endlessly successful continuing onto such films as Nixon and Natural Born Killers, both of which he directed. He then moved onto films such as The People vs. Larry Flynt, Any Given Sunday, The Day Reagan Was Shot, and the epic, Alexander, all of which he produced, in addition to South of the Border, a documentary about Hugo Chavez that Stone also directed.
I first met Oliver Stone in person at a party in his Santa Monica apartment 13 years ago when I was young and naive, and pretty much intimidated by anything and everybody. I choked up in his charismatic, almost regal presence. He seems preoccupied with his thoughts, as most geniuses are, and burns a hole on your forehead with his eyes as he talks. Yet, there is something very humble and reserved about him, almost as if he just wanted to be left alone and away from the celebrity hype and work behind the scenes undisturbed.
Always controversial, Stone recently expressed his concerns about government, media and politics in an interview: “I’d like America to succeed. I get a little nervous about the country making it. The war in Afghanistan is a disaster. We make enemies. Our news media is terrible, they don’t analyze well. TV in America has reached the Babel-state. It’s all crap and bullshit. There’s no news in America, not even on the best channels. It’s superficial, the news is for profit, it’s selling entertainment.”
I take great joy in the fact that we hear this from Oliver Stone. I have been sickened about the news having been analyzed and interpreted by “experts” on TV who get paid handsomely for telling us what to think and how to interpret who said what and why. I find this offensive and outrageous! Not only the news is becoming opinionated and sensational entertainment, but they keep on discussing the stupidest things while the world is going down the drain faster than water can flow down the gutter. Newscast has become a control system more than anything by literally telling us what to think! Where is the integrity in all this?
And when asked about the current presidency Oliver Stone says,
“The question is: Is there a permanent government that makes people do things like go on with this “War on Terror” and “War on Drugs“? The thing is: We have to fix our own country; we’ve said this for years. How do we break gridlock? How do we get healthcare? How do we get anything done? I’m wondering.”
And, I am wondering too along with most Americans and the World!
The richest, most advanced country on Earth and we hardly do or say much anymore that makes any sense at all.