- Born on the Fourth of July (film)
name = Born on the Fourth of July
caption = original film poster
Ron Kovic(book) Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic(screenplay)
Tom Cruise Kyra Sedgwick Raymond J. Barry Caroline Kava Jerry Levine Frank Whaley Willem Dafoe
Holly Marie Combsas Jenny
A. Kitman Ho Oliver Stone
distributor = Universal Pictures
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 adaptationof the autobiographyof the same name by Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic. Tom Cruiseplays Kovic, in a performance that earned him his first Academy Awardnomination. Oliver Stone(himself a Vietnam veteran) co-wrote the screenplaywith 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 Awardsfor Best Director and Best Film Editing.
The film opens when
Ron Kovicis a young boy living in Massapequa, Long Island, New York. He grows up in a patriotic and Catholichousehold, instilling within him a strong sense of pridein his country and his religion. As a teenager, and a top member of his high school's wrestlingteam, he proves himself physically fit and athletic, as well as an exceptional studentacademically. When local Marine recruiting NCOs visit his school and give Ron and his fellow seniors an impassioned lectureabout 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
Vietnamtour in 1968. Now a Marine sergeantand on patrol, his unit a villageof 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 fieldfacing sure death, until a fellow Marine rescues him. Paralyzed from the mid-chest down, he spends several months recovering at the BronxVeterans 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 crutchesand 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-warrallies 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 babyin 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 vigilfor 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 IIveteran 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 prostitutehe 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.
Vietnam Veterans Against the War(VVAW) and travels to the 1972 Republican National Conventionin Miami. He and his compatriots force their way into the convention hallduring 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 publicationof his autobiography "Born on the Fourth of July".
Tom Cruiseas Ron Kovic
Raymond J. Barryas Mr. Kovic
Caroline Kavaas Mrs. Kovic
*Josh Evans as Tommy Kovic
Frank Whaleyas Timmy Burns
Jerry Levineas Steve Boyer
Kyra Sedgwickas Donna
Rob Camillettias Tommy Finelli
Stephen Baldwinas Billy Vorsovich
Tom Berengeras GySgt. Hayes
Willem Dafoeas Charlie
Holly Marie Combsas 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.
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" (
**"Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures" (
Directors Guild of America)
**"Best Director - Motion Picture" (
**"Best Film Editing" (Academy Awards)
**"Best Actor" (
Chicago Film Critics AssociationAwards)
**"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)
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.
* [http://film.virtual-history.com/film.php?filmid=216 Movie stills]
before = "
after = "
Dances with Wolves"
title = Golden Globe for Best Picture - Drama
years = 1990|
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