Born on the Fourth of July (film)

Born on the Fourth of July (film)

Infobox Film
name = Born on the Fourth of July

caption = original film poster
writer = Ron Kovic (book)
Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic (screenplay)
starring = Tom Cruise
Kyra Sedgwick
Raymond J. Barry
Caroline Kava
Jerry Levine
Frank Whaley
Willem Dafoe
Josh Evans
And Holly Marie Combs as Jenny
director = Oliver Stone
producer = A. Kitman Ho
Oliver Stone
music = John Williams
editing = Joe Hutshing
David Brenner
distributor = Universal Pictures
released = December 20, 1989 (U.S.)
March 2, 1990 (U.K.)
February 8, 1990 (Australia)
March 1, 1990 (Germany)
runtime = 145 min.
country = USA
language = English
budget = $14,000,000
gross = $161,001,698 (worldwide)
amg_id = 1:6747
imdb_id = 0096969

"Born on the Fourth of July" is a 1989 film adaptation of the autobiography of the same name by Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic. Tom Cruise plays Kovic, in a performance that earned him his first Academy Award nomination. Oliver Stone (himself a Vietnam veteran) co-wrote the screenplay with Kovic, and also produced and directed the film. Stone wanted to film the movie in Vietnam, but because relations between the United States and Vietnam had not yet been normalized, it was instead filmed in the Philippines.

"Born on the Fourth of July" is considered part of Oliver Stone's "trilogy" of films about the Vietnam War — along with "Platoon" (1986) and "Heaven & Earth" (1993). The film was given Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Film Editing.

Plot synopsis

The film opens when Ron Kovic is a young boy living in Massapequa, Long Island, New York. He grows up in a patriotic and Catholic household, instilling within him a strong sense of pride in his country and his religion. As a teenager, and a top member of his high school's wrestling team, he proves himself physically fit and athletic, as well as an exceptional student academically. When local Marine recruiting NCOs visit his school and give Ron and his fellow seniors an impassioned lecture about the Corps, Ron decides to enlist. He misses his prom, because he is unable to secure a date with his love interest, Donna. He confronts her at the prom and has a dance with her on his last night before leaving.

The film then moves to Kovic's second Vietnam tour in 1968. Now a Marine sergeant and on patrol, his unit a village of Vietnamese citizens, believing them to be enemy combatants. During the retreat, Kovic becomes disoriented and accidentally shoots one of the new arrivals to his platoon, a younger Marine private first class, named Wilson, who ends up in the line of firing between sides. Despite the frantic efforts of the Navy Corpsman present who try to save him, Wilson later dies from his wounds, this action leaves a deep impression on Kovic. Overwhelmed by guilt, Kovic appeals to his executive officer (XO), who merely tells him to forget the incident. The meeting has a negative effect on Ron, who is crushed at being brushed off by his XO.

The platoon goes out on another hazardous patrol a few weeks later. During a firefight, Kovic is critically wounded and trapped in a field facing sure death, until a fellow Marine rescues him. Paralyzed from the mid-chest down, he spends several months recovering at the Bronx Veterans Administration hospital. The living conditions in the hospital include; rats that crawl freely on the floors, a staff that is generally apathetic to their patients' needs, doctors that visit the patients infrequently, drug use that is rampant, and equipment that is too old and ill-maintained to be useful. He desperately tries to walk again with the use of crutches and braces, despite repeated warnings from his doctors. However, he soon suffers a bad fall that causes a compound fracture of his thighbone. The injury nearly robs him of his leg, and he vehemently argues with the doctors who briefly consider resorting to amputation.

Ron returns home, permanently in a wheelchair, with his leg intact. At home, he begins to alienate his family and friends, complaining about students staging anti-war rallies across the country and burning the American flag. Though he tries to maintain his dignity as a Marine, Ron gradually begins to become disillusioned, feeling that his government has betrayed him and his fellow Vietnam Veterans. In Ron's absence his younger brother Tommy has already become staunchly anti-war, leading to a rift between them. His highly religious mother also seems unable to deal with Ron's new attitude as a resentful, paralyzed veteran. His problems are as much psychological as they are physical and he quickly becomes alcoholic and belligerent. During an Independence Day parade, he shows signs of post-traumatic stress when firecrackers explode and when a baby in the crowd starts crying. He reunites with his old high school friend, Timmy Burns, who is also a wounded veteran, and the two spend Ron's birthday sharing war stories. Later, Ron goes to visit Donna at her college in Syracuse, New York. The two reminisce and she asks him to attend a vigil for the victims of the Kent State shootings. However, he cannot do so, because his chair prevents him from getting very far on campus because of curbs and stairways. He and Donna are separated after she and her fellow students are captured and taken away by the police at her college for demonstrating a protest against the Vietnam War.

Ron's disillusionment grows severe enough that he has an intense fight with his mother after returning home drunk one night after having a barroom confrontation with a World War II veteran that fought on Iwo Jima who expressed no sympathy to Ron. Ron travels to a small town in Mexico ("The Village of the Sun") that seems to be a haven for paralyzed Vietnam veterans. After venting his rage at his mother's embarrassment over having a disabled son, he has an emotional conversation with his father, and he later leaves home for good. He has his first sexual experience with a prostitute he believes he's in love with. Ron wants to ask her to marry him but when he sees her with another customer, the realization of real love versus a mere physical sexual experience sets in, and he decides against it. Hooking up with another wheelchair-bound veteran, Charlie, who is furious over a prostitute mocking his lack of sexual function due to his severe wounding in Vietnam, the two travel to what they believe will be a friendlier village. After annoying their taxicab driver, they end up stranded on the side of the road. They quarrel and fight, knocking each other out of their wheelchairs. Eventually, they are picked up by a man with a truck and eventually driven back to the "Village of the Sun". On his way back to Long Island, Ron makes a side trek to Georgia to visit the parents and family of Wilson, the Marine he believes that he killed during his tour. He tells them the real story about how their son died and confesses his guilt to them. Wilson's widow, now the mother of the deceased soldier's toddler son, admits that she cannot find it in her heart to forgive him for killing her husband, but God just might. Mr and Mrs. Wilson, however, are more forgiven and even sympathetic to his predicament and suffering, because Wilson's father fought in the Pacific Theater during World War Two and is even disillusioned with the war in Vietnam. In spite of the mixed reactions he receives, the confession seems to lift a heavy weight from Ron's conscience.

Ron joins Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and travels to the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami. He and his compatriots force their way into the convention hall during Richard Nixon's acceptance speech and cause a commotion that makes it onto the national news. Ron himself tells a reporter about his negative experiences in Vietnam and the VA hospital conditions. His interview is cut short when guards eject him and his fellow vets from the hall and attempt to turn them over to the police. They manage to break free from the police, regroup, and charge the hall again, though not so successfully this time. The film ends with Kovic speaking at the 1976 Democratic National Convention, shortly after the publication of his autobiography "Born on the Fourth of July".


*Tom Cruise as Ron Kovic
*Raymond J. Barry as Mr. Kovic
*Caroline Kava as Mrs. Kovic
*Josh Evans as Tommy Kovic
*Frank Whaley as Timmy Burns
*Jerry Levine as Steve Boyer
*Kyra Sedgwick as Donna
*Rob Camilletti as Tommy Finelli
*Stephen Baldwin as Billy Vorsovich
*Tom Berenger as GySgt. Hayes
*Willem Dafoe as Charlie
*Holly Marie Combs as Jenny


The reviews of the film were extremely positive. As of April 1, 1990, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 88% of critics gave the film positive reviews. Roger Ebert gave the film "four stars" and calling it "One of the best films of the year". Metacritic reported that the film had an average score of 75 out of 100. The New York Times says that "It is a film of enormous visceral power with, in the central role, a performance by Tom Cruise that defines everything that is best about the movie".


The most prominent theme of the film centers on the physical and mental anguish Kovic suffers. He is robbed of his ability to walk, a particularly vicious wound since he was an athlete in high school. He is also unable to have "normal sex" due to his paralysis, and can never have children.

The mental stress that Ron experiences, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder, is not uncommon among Vietnam veterans. Along with his guilt over shooting his fellow Marine, he must also come to terms with combat situations that required him to kill not only North Vietnamese soldiers but also innocent civilians. As we see during the July 4 birthday celebration the town veterans association holds for him, he can't shake the reminders of combat, like the crying infant or fireworks that sound like gunfire or hand grenades. It also shows the pain he endures from the American government for not listening to the veterans about the conditions in the hospitals.

Box Office

The film was release in December 22, 1989, grossing $172,021 at its opening week. At its second week, it grossed $492,236. At its third week of release it grossed $11,023,650, ranking #1 in Box Office. The film stayed #1 in Box Office for its fourth and fifth of release. The lowest position it reach was in its last week of release, ranking #11 in Box Office. The film stayed in the position on the top ten grossing films of 1990 until its last week of release. The film gross $70,001,698 domesticly and $161,001,698 worldwide.

Awards and Nominations

**"Best Director" (Academy Awards)
**"Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures" (Directors Guild of America)
**"Best Director - Motion Picture" (Golden Globes)
**"Best Film Editing" (Academy Awards)
**"Best Actor" (Chicago Film Critics Association Awards)
**"Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama" (Golden Globes)
**"Best Motion Picture - Drama" (Golden Globes)
**"" (Golden Globes)
**"Film Music Award" (BMI Film & TV Awards)
**"Best Sound Editing" (Motion Picture Sound Editors)
**"Democracy" (Political Film Society)
**"Best Picture" (Academy Awards)
**"Best Actor in a Leading Role" (Academy Awards)
**"Best Actor" (BAFTA Awards)
**"Best Casting for Feature Film, Drama" (Casting Society of America)
**"Best Cinematography" (Academy Awards)
**"Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography" (American Society of Cinematographers)
**"Best Edited Feature Film" (American Cinema Editors)
**"Best Music, Original Score" (Academy Awards)
**"" (Golden Globes)
**"Best Sound" (Academy Awards)
**"Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium" (Academy Awards)
**"Best Screenplay - Adapted" (BAFTA Awards)
**"Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium" (Writers Guild of America)


The film was released on DVD April 29th, 1998. The DVD contains Commentary with Director Oliver Stone. The special edition DVD was released on October 19th, 2004. The DVD contains Commentary with Director Oliver Stone and The Original NBC Documentary the Making of "Born on the Fourth of July". On June 12th, 2007, the film was released on the HD-DVD format.

External links

* [ Movie stills]

###@@@KEY@@@###succession box
before = "Rain Man"
after = "Dances with Wolves"
title = Golden Globe for Best Picture - Drama
years = 1990|

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