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Gardens of Stone (Sous-titres français)

James Caan , Anjelica Huston , Francis Ford Coppola    DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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The subtext of this grim, snail-paced Francis Ford Coppola film is the death of Coppola's son, Giancarlo, in a boating accident. Coppola came back with this Vietnam-era military drama about the men assigned to patrol and serve at the funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. James Caan is the world-weary patrol leader with a fatherly interest in a gung-ho cadet (D.B. Sweeney). Caan tries to show Sweeney the potentially fatal future that awaits him if he volunteers for combat, but he can't break through his young charge's zealousness. The subplot involves crusty Caan's attempts at romance with Anjelica Huston, who can't quite fathom his contradictions. The story is all glum and lumbering, despite a warm, full-bodied performance by James Earl Jones as one of Caan's buddies. --Marshall Fine

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars In eternal glory... April 3 2004
This is a film with a difference -- many people come to it with preconceived notions of how a military-themed film should be, and are somewhat disappointed. This is not an action film, and while it fits the overall genre of being a protest film about Vietnam, it is not unambiguously so. It is an anti-war film, to be sure, but is not an anti-military or even anti-American film. It has an emphasis on duty and honour that transcends minor considerations of the particular patriotism for particular nations -- the themes as old as the Roman centurion's honour for fallen compatriots run through to the Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetary.
The plot winds its way around the Old Guard, the honour guard at Arlington National Cemetary, charged with the performance of a hallowed trust, one of the few in a secular nation such as the United States -- that of overseeing the gravesites of the honoured dead who died after service to the nation, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The primary senior characters are Platoon Sergeant Hazard (James Caan) and Sergeant Major Nelson (James Earl Jones), two crusty veterans overseeing operations; both served in Korea and Vietnam with distinction, and are now sitting on the sidelines of the expanding war in Vietnam in a place where the body count is very apparent. Into this mix comes the young and idealistic Specialist Willow (D.B. Sweeney in one of his earliest roles), an Army brat whose father is (of course) a friend of Hazard and Nelson.
Willow has an unrequited love (played by Mary Stuart Masterson) in the daughter of a colonel, who seems to think that the son of a sergeant is beneath his daughter, even as Willow has ambition toward becoming an officer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My review is somewhat biased. Nov. 15 2003
I admit that my review is somewhat biased, because I got to be an extra in this movie. I was a Military Policeman stationed at Ft. Myer when they filmed this movie and I got the chance to be in it and meet the cast.
The depiction of the life of the 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard) conducting the funerals is fairly accurate. Overall, I think that this movie represented the Army fairly. Some minor details struck me, but they didn't detract from the enjoyment of the movie in any way.
As for the cast, my personal opinion of them varies as well, but I would like to say thet James Earl Jones is a wonderful man and in person, he's larger than life.
If anyone would like to delve a little deeper into this story, I would recommend the book by Nicholas Profitt, or I'd be glad to answer any questions you might have.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The End Result of War Nov. 10 2003
By Robert
Moving story about the Old Guard at Arlington Cemetety in Washington during the war in Vietnam.
James Caan give a powerful performance as an old vetern who has done his time, and his good friend played James Earl Jones who also plays a decorated vetern.
This is more an anti-war film then any thing else. Because it's the old guard that conducts the funerals for KIA's from the war that was still raging at the time.
There are no combat scenes in this film, but you feel the war through burials they perform, and conversations Cann, and Jones have with the young buck in the outfit who wants to do his duty.
While this isn't an action film, it is one hell of drama about the true effects of war. And don't think of this as just another Coming Home ( a film with a trumpted up situation, designed to tug at the heart strings, with Hanoi Jane Fonda)
I'd have to put this with 84 Charlie Mopic, Hamburger Hill, We Were Soldiers, and Full Metal Jacket on my list of all time favorite Vietnam era films.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good movie for war film buffs July 18 2003
This is a decent film for anyone who likes war-themed movies. There aren't any intricate combat scenes and the plot involves a love story or two that are a bit thin, but if you're a fan of military films, this one is worth watching at least once, if only for the one-liners delivered by James Earl Jones. Some of the film's highlights (aside from the one-liners) include a star-studded cast and good performances by the principle characters. The movie is set in the "Old Guard" in Washington, D.C., where the cast struggles in each person's perception of the war in Vietnam and how they deal with it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Truth...not fiction Aug. 31 2002
I served in The Old Guard from 1997 - 1999. During this time, thousands of our boys died in VietNam and were buried in Arlington Cemetary. The soldiers of The Old Guard delivered the dead to their final resting place, while the families wept and experienced the last rights given in ceremonial circumstances. This story tells the last chapter of the lives of those who paid the ultimate price for their country...whether it was right or wrong.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic combination - Coppola, Caan & Jones July 31 2002
Francis Ford Coppola is one of my favorite directors ever, and he has done another great job with "Gardens of Stone." I had only the tiniest fraction of an idea what this film was about prior to watching it, so I had no expectations going in. The film opens with a powerful scene; a soldier is being buried in Arlington, and Coppola spends long moments on the widow's anguished face; Mary Stuart Masterson conveys such depths of sorrow that tears welled in my eyes instantly, even though I didn't know who any of the characters were at that point, or understand how the soldier had died.
Sadly, the relationship between Masterson and Sweeny didn't get fleshed out fully through the movie, and I wish it had been - it would have added another layer to Sweeny's character. The relationship that was most interesting in the story is that between James Caan and James Earl Jones; they play old war buddies and best friends, and they do an excellent job of it. Their facial expressions, body language, voice inflections, everything - they are truly outstanding actors.
There are many moments of laughter in the film, followed by powerful and profound moments of sorrow, and Coppola balances them out very well. It's a film primarily about friendship, but also about love, respect, politics, living and dying. I really recommend it to anyone who enjoys military movies, but it's not *just* an Army movie. Truly exceptional.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A different look at the Vietnam war
With all the Vietnam movies that have been made to date, you don't see too many that show the view from soldiers that didn't fight in that war. Read more
Published on June 30 2002 by Kyle Tolle
5.0 out of 5 stars Overlooked Gem
This movie is an overlooked classic. The writing, directing and acting are wonderful. An all star cast lead by fantastic performances by James Caan, James Earl Jones, D.B. Read more
Published on June 2 2002 by Uncle Chino
5.0 out of 5 stars The end product of political miscalculations
Gardens of Stone is the end of the line for old generals and young privates of the Vietnam War. Before one embarks on a war or support of one, they should watch this film that... Read more
Published on April 9 2001 by Paul Sayles
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Vietnam Movies
Can a movie that never actually goes to Vietnam truly portray the horror and tragedy of the war? This movie proves it can be done. Read more
Published on May 4 2000 by A. Fultz
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The most intelligent film I've seen about the Vietnam war, by far. Most films about the war fall back on gratuitous brutality and demonization of the Vietnamese to capture our... Read more
Published on March 27 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars The way I was
I was in the Old Guard in the early 90's, and even though I didn't remember seeing this movie during it's original release, I have seen it plenty of times since my days in the... Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2000 by Sean Bowser
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
This movie is a true testment of how during a time in America's history we were all torn between our belief in justice and supporting our troops in Vietnam!
Published on Dec 24 1999 by freedom
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