Director Oliver Stone: films cast imprint on American culture

04/26/13 Jim Bleyer
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Film director Oliver Stone has challenged socially accepted views of American history through films like Platoon and Wall Street. Stone spoke this month at Rollins College in Winter Park and he emphasized the roll of film on society.

Stone asserts movies wield enormous power to persuade and manipulate. The controversial director laments that unconventional views are underrepresented in the cinema. We were not allowed to interview Stone or record his speech, but Cassandra Yankala, a Rollins senior majoring in Critical Media and Cultural Studies, agrees that movies are a powerful influence.

"Stone mentioned that we get seventy percent of what we know from movies. Maybe that’s a low percentage, maybe that’s a high percentage but I think it says a lot about how it does influence culture and the topics influence culture. You know we learn a lot from movies. Maybe that’s how we learn our history. Maybe that’s how we learn things in school are from film. I think overall that it is a medium, because of the visuals, because you can enhance it with sound effects and all sorts of things, it can be a very moving art form and one that can appeal to all of your senses and make it much more dynamic."

Bill Boles, an English professor created the minor in film studies at Rollins. He thinks that Stone’s films, while unconventional, have ramped up American awareness.

"I think back to Platoon and how important a film that was because you had a couple of Vietnam War films in the seventies -- Apocalypse Now, Coming Home -- but those movies didn’t address Vietnam until Platoon. Platoon really became the film about Vietnam. I think it’s made a major, major impact on our culture and our look at that part of history in America."

Stone's influence shows no signs of waning. He told the more than 2000 people in attendance that other culture-defining film projects are in the works but he wouldn't be more specific.

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