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Who is Oliver Stone?

By Garry Crystal
Updated May 23, 2024
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Oliver Stone is a film director and writer. He has created some of the most thought provoking and controversial films of the last two decades. His films are relevant not only to himself, but to the world at large.

Oliver Stone was born on 15 September 1946 in New York City. Stone studied Liberal Arts at Yale University, but left after only one year. After a stint as an English teacher in South Vietnam and a trip to Mexico, Stone enlisted in the US army. It was 1967, and with the Vietnam War, Stone found himself again in Vietnam, this time taking part in active combat duty.

Oliver Stone won awards for extraordinary acts of bravery under fire. He was to use his experiences in the war as the basis for three of his most personal films. His Vietnam trilogy looked at the war from different points of view. Platoon (1986), Born on the Fourth of July (1989) and Heaven and Earth (1993) were all either semi-autobiographical or true stories.

Prior to making his name as a film director, Oliver Stone had already found acclaim as a screenwriter. Midnight Express (1978) netted an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Stone had also written screenplays including Scarface (1983), Year of the Dragon (1985) and Evita (1996). With the exception of U-turn (1997), Oliver Stone has written or contributed to the writing of all of his films.

Oliver Stone's films have always had some political or sociological theme running through them. Whether it is JFK (1991), Wall Street (1987) or Natural Born Killers (1994), his films take an in-depth look at the lengths society will go to in order to achieve a goal. Due to the content of his films, Stone has often been accused of being against the American government. Critics have claimed that Stone's anger sometimes taints his bias on the subjects of his films. However, Stone proved that he had factual evidence for every claim that he made in films such as JFK and Nixon (1995).

Stylistically, an Oliver Stone film often includes various forms of filming. Split screen, animation and black and white can all be found in the mix of many Oliver Stone films. Some of his films are visually stunning, and none can be described as mediocre. At the very least, his films get an audience talking and thinking more about the world in which they live.

In 2006, Oliver Stone directed the film World Trade Center. It is one of a handful of films that have recently been released with the September 11 attacks as their subject. World Trade Center is a sensitively told account of the attacks as seen through the eyes of two New York police officers.

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