The Anderson Platoon

Medic has located a restored copy of The Anderson Platoon, one of the great documentaries of the Vietnam war. Released in 1966 in Europe as La Section Anderson, and a year later in the US, the film takes its name from Bravo 1/12 First Cavalry platoon leader Lieutenant Joseph B. Anderson.

Unlike American releases of The Anderson Platoon, this version retains the original structure, and preserves Schoendoerffer’s spare and stoic narrative sound track.

The film allows few if any special effects. Except for one song, reprised by Stanley Kubrick twenty years later in Full Metal Jacket, the sound track consists of the men’s voices, ambient jungle noise, the whir of overhead choppers, the sudden eruption of battle.

The Anderson Platoon won an Oscar and an Emmy for best foreign documentary. Filmed  under harsh conditions, the black and white visual quality varies, though it is mostly good. At times, Schoendorffer’s French accent may be hard to understand. That said, The Anderson Platoon captures the grim, unwinnable nature of the Vietnam war, and the grim lives of American grunts who were tasked to win it.


Pierre Schoendorffer: Obit

Joseph Anderson: 2015 West Point interview