NEW YORK — THE following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Oliver Stone at New York's Regency Hotel:
The notion that these three [Vietnam] pictures constitute a ``trilogy'' is something that I've been aware of only in hindsight. They were not intended in that way. The first one, ``Platoon,'' was about my experience in combat in Vietnam. This expanded into ``Born on the Fourth of July,'' the story of a soldier in a wheelchair. Now, for ``Heaven and Earth,'' I'm doing the story of a Vietnamese woman in the war. They might all seem different, but now that I look back on them I can see a symmetry there: They're all forms of the Vietnam experience - my infantry experience, Ron Kovic's story after the war, and now Le Ly's story, which combines both time periods. Each represents growth for me, a real journey. It's amazing. If you had told me in 1986 that I was going to follow up ``Platoon'' with stories about a veteran in a wheelchair and a Vietnamese peasant woman, I'd have said, no, I wasn't interested. So it tells me that with each film I've gone to a place where I never thought I would.
I've also come to the point where in ``Heaven and Earth'' I wanted to make a story of a spiritual odyssey that's beyond politics and countries. It's about people, about a woman who plays many different roles in her life. Le Ly wears many different masks - she's a beggar, a peasant girl, a spy for the Viet Cong, a rich man's mistress, a prostitute, an American housewife, the mother of three children from three different men.... But at the same time she's never lost touch with her spiritual center, which was given to her by her father. By the end, it's clear that she's forgiven the people who hurt her. That's the essence of the movie. It makes it human. And it doesn't matter what war, or what time, or what place, or what country. It's truly all people, a state of spiritual wisdom we should seek to attain.
I've talked to many Vietnamese about their experiences when they came to this country, and it was always traumatic. They could never get used to the amount of food that was wasted and the degree of consumerism that goes on here.
Funny, since the '70s I've noticed that in America we're becoming more interested in the East and its spiritual concerns; while in the East things have become more materialistic and consumer oriented. There seems to be a kind of global blending going on.