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Tom Cruise delivers a riveting and unforgettable portrayal of Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic in Oliver Stone's Academy Award-winning masterpiece. Based on a true story, the acclaimed film follows the young Kovic from a zealous teen who eagerly volunteers for the Vietnam War, to an embittered veteran paralyzed from the mid-chest down. Deeply in love with this country, Kovic returned to an environment vastly different from the one he left, and struggled before emerging as a brave new voice for the disenchanted.
Set in the years between 1956 and 1976; Produced and released in 1989.^One of the best films made about the devastating impact of the Vietnam War on the body politic, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY is superbly executed by director Oliver Stone, who evokes what may be Tom Cruise's best performance as Vietnam vet Ron Kovic. Before the war starts, Kovic is a normal American kid, going to school, hanging out with his friends, and bagging groceries for pocket money. But as the Vietnam conflict begins to impact the lives of everyone around him, the patriotic teenager decides to enlist. Although his father (Raymond J. Berry) is not happy with his decision, his mother (Caroline Kava) could hardly be more enthusiastic. Once in combat, Kovic becomes disillusioned with his commanding officer (John Getz) who dismisses the fact that Kovic accidentally shot one of their own men in combat. Shortly thereafter, Kovic is paralyzed from the chest down by a bullet in the spine. He must begin a lengthy and excruciatingly painful rehabilitation, which includes a period in the shockingly negligent Bronx Veteran's Hospital. He finally returns to his hometown, now a confused, embittered, and alienated man. His family is also unsettled, unsure about how to deal with this very changed person. After a dissipated spree with other disabled vets like Charlie (Willem Dafoe), Kovic begins talking to antiwar activists like Donna (Kyra Sedgwick) and starts to reevaluate his thinking. In sum, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY is a deeply moving true account of the effects of war on its survivors.
"...Tom Cruise gives an astounding, deeply felt performance..." 01/11/1990 p.29
New York Times
"...A film of enormous visceral power....[Cruise's performance] defines everything that is best about the movie..." 12/20/1989 p.C15,Included in the New York Times "10 Best Films of 1989" List 12/24/1989 p.II, 22
"...Cruise sets himself apart from the rest by proving with stunning ferocity that the most popular guy at the movies can also be a fine actor..." 01/05/1990 p.1D
Rating: B 07/08/1994 pp.58-9
"...You'd be hard pressed to remain untouched by the trials of paralysed Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic....Gripping during the pre-war and combat sequences..." 10/01/1999 p.102
"This '89 epic features cameos from Kovic himself and anti-war legend Abbie Hoffman." 08/01/2005 p.135
Golden Globe, Oliver Stone, Best Director - Motion Picture,Golden Globe, Born on the Fourth of July, Best Motion Picture - Drama,Golden Globe, Tom Cruise, Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture - Drama,Golden Globe, Ron Kovic, Oliver Stone, Best Screenplay - Motion Picture,Oscar, Oliver Stone, Best Director,Oscar, David Brenner, Joe Hutshing, Best Film Editing
Oscar, Tom Cruise, Best Actor in a Leading Role,Oscar, A. Kitman Ho, Oliver Stone, Best Picture
Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July unfurls itself with an ambitious flourish, like a stirring, patriotic anthem. It's his Main Street symphony, and in every frame, you feel his passion to make a grandiose social statement, to unload the movie equivalent of the Great American Novel and to define our age. In every frame you feel him emptying out his heart and soul. This is an impassioned movie, made with conviction and evangelical verve. It's also hysterical and overbearing and alienating. Using Ron Kovic's autobiographical account of his lower-middle-class, small-town American upbringing, Stone stretches an epic canvas and splatters onto it all his beliefs about Vietnam, America, family, patriotism, and just about everything that's happened here in the last quarter-century.
Writer-director [Oliver] Stone, who based his earlier film Platoon on his own war experiences, has been trying to film the [Ron] Kovic story for years...Nothing Cruise has done will prepare you for what he does in Born on the Fourth of July...This is a film about ideology, played out in the personal experiences of a young man who paid dearly for what he learned. Maybe instead of anybody getting up in Congress and apologizing for the Vietnam War, they could simply hold a screening of this movie on Capitol Hill and call it a day.
DVD, Widescreen, English, Dolby, Digital Audio
Jay Carr, Boston Globe
...a knockout...uses a crippled Vietnam veteran's disability as metaphor for a country's paralysis.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
...fervent, consistently gripping film...
Oliver Stone again shows America to itself in a way it won't forget.