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William Oliver Stone (born September 15, 1946) is an American film director and screenwriter. Stone came to prominence as a director with a series of films about the Vietnam War, in which he had participated as an American infantry soldier, and his work continues to focus frequently on contemporary political and cultural issues, often controversially. His work has earned him three Academy Awards. His first Oscar was for Best Adapted Screenplay for Midnight Express (1978). He won Academy Awards for Directing Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), both of which were centered on the Vietnam War.

A notable feature of his directing style is the use of many different cameras and film formats, from VHS to 8 mm film to 70 mm film. He sometimes uses several formats in a single scene, as in Natural Born Killers (1994) and JFK (1991).

Early life and career

Stone was born in New York Citymarker, the son of Jacqueline (née Goddet) and Louis Stone, a stockbroker. He grew up affluent and lived in townhouses in Manhattanmarker and Stamford, Connecticutmarker. His father was Jewish and his mother a Roman Catholic of Frenchmarker birth, and Stone was raised an Episcopalian as a compromise but has since converted to Buddhism. Stone attended Trinity Schoolmarker before his parents sent him away to attend The Hill Schoolmarker, an exclusive college-preparatory school in Pottstown, Pennsylvaniamarker. His parents divorced when he was 15, due to his father's extramarital affairs with the wives of several family friends . Stone's father was also influential in obtaining jobs for his son including work on a financial exchange in France, where Stone often spent his summer vacation with his maternal grandparents, a job that proved inspirational to Stone for his movie Wall Street. Stone eventually graduated from The Hill Schoolmarker in 1964.

Stone was then admitted into Yale Universitymarker, but left after one year. Stone had become inspired by Joseph Conrad's novel Lord Jim as well as by Zorba the Greek and George Harrison's music to teach English at the Free Pacific Institute in South Vietnam. Stone taught in Vietnam for six months after which he worked as a wiper on a United States Merchant Marine ship, traveling to Oregonmarker and Mexicomarker, before returning to Yale, where he dropped out a second time (in part due to working on his 1400 page autobiographical novel A Child's Night Dream). While at Yale, Stone and friend Lloyd Kaufman worked on an early Troma Entertainment comedy "The Battle of Love's Return" (released in 1971). Both also acted in the movie, Stone in a cameo role. Stone served with the U.S. Army in the Vietnam war from April 1967 to November 1968. He specifically requested combat duty as an infantryman and was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division, and was wounded twice in action. His personal awards include the Bronze Star with "V" device for valor for "extraordinary acts of courage under fire," and the Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster. . With support from the GI Bill, Stone eventually graduated from film school at New York Universitymarker (where he was mentored by director Martin Scorsese) in 1971.

Mainstream success

He has made three films about VietnammarkerPlatoon (1986), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), and Heaven & Earth (1993). He has called these films a trilogy, though they each deal with different aspects of the war. Platoon is a semi-autobiographical film about Stone's experience in combat. Born on the Fourth of July is based on the autobiography of Ron Kovic. Heaven & Earth is derived from the memoir When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, the true story of Le Ly Hayslip, a Vietnamese girl whose life is drastically affected by the war. During this same period, Stone directed Wall Street (1987), which earned Michael Douglas an Academy Award for Best Actor; Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio (1988), and The Doors (1991), starring Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison. Stone has won three Academy Awards. His first Oscar was for Best Adapted Screenplay for Midnight Express (1978). He won Academy Awards for Directing Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July.

For Year of the Dragon (1985) he received a Razzie nomination in the category Worst Screenplay. Other films whose screenplays he participated in are Conan the Barbarian (1982), Scarface (1983), 8 Million Ways to Die (1986) and Evita (1996). In addition, he has written or taken part in the writing of every film he has directed, except for U Turn (1997). The very first film that he directed professionally was the obscure horror picture Seizure (1974).

Recent years

In the past decade, Stone has directed U-Turn (1997), which he describes as a small film that he would enjoy seeing as a teenager, Any Given Sunday (1999), a film about power struggles within and surrounding an American football team. In 2000, Stone, along with Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas appeared in Money Never Sleeps. The film is a direct-to-DVD documentary about making Wall Street, which Stone directed and Sheen and Douglas starred in. Stone also directed Alexander (2004), a biopic about Alexander the Great.

After Alexander, Stone went on to direct World Trade Center, which centered on two Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) cops during the September 11, 2001 attacks. The main undercurrent of the film is hope through times of trial. As of December 19, 2006, the worldwide box office for World Trade Center was $161,735,806. He is slated to direct Pinkville, a Vietnam war drama about the infamous killings set to star Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum. The film's plot was to focus on the investigation into the 1968 My Lai Massacremarker of Vietnamese civilians. It would have been Stone's fourth Vietnam film, after Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven & Earth. The film was to have been made for the newly reformed United Artists. However, United Artists halted its December 2007 production start because of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. Stone's latest film is a biopic about George W. Bush, named W. Stone indicated that it would be a "fair, but true portrait of the man," portraying the controversial President's childhood, relationship with his father, struggles with alcoholism, rediscovery of his Christian faith, his political career and presidency up through the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The film is based on a screenplay by Stone and Stanley Weiser, who had co-written Wall Street (1987). Josh Brolin was cast in the role of Bush, James Cromwell as Bush Sr. and Elizabeth Banks as his wife. Filming began on May 12, 2008 in Shreveport, Louisianamarker and wrapped in June. W. was released on October 17 2008. He recently promoted his new film "South of the Border" at the Venice Film Festival; a documentary about Hugo Chavez.

Controversy

Stone's films often have been criticized for promoting conspiracy theories and alleged historical inaccuracies. JFK, for instance, centers on a heroic character who comes to believe that many high-level government officials having a hand in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1991, he showed the film to Congress on Capitol Hillmarker, which helped lead to passage of the Assassination Materials Disclosure Act of 1992. The Assassination Records Review Board (created by Congress to end the secrecy surrounding Kennedy's assassination) discussed the film, including Stone's observation at the end of the film, about the dangers inherent in government secrecy. Stone published an annotated version of the screenplay, in which he cites references for his claims, shortly after the film's release.

Stone's screenplay Midnight Express was criticized for portraying the Turkish people in an overly negative light. The original author, Billy Hayes, around whom the film is set, has spoken out against the film, protesting that he had many Turkish friends while in jail.

 Stone's film The Doors received criticism from Ray Manzarek (keyboardist–bass player) during a question and answer session at Indiana University East (in Richmond, Indiana) in 1997. During the discussion Manzarek stated that he sat down with Stone about The Doors and Jim Morrison for over 12 hours. He said none of the content of the discussion - such as details on important events in the history of The Doors and Morrison's personal life - was present in the film. Manzarek went on to say that Stone's film was highly inaccurate about Morrison and The Doors. Patricia Kennealy Morrison - a well known rock critic and author - is on record publicly and privately with criticism of Stone's film. She was a consultant on the movie, in which she also has a cameo appearance, but she writes in her memoir Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison (Dutton, 1992) that Stone ignored everything she told him and proceeded with his own version of events. From the moment the movie was released, she blasted it as untruthful and inaccurate. Surviving members of the band: John Densmore, and Robby Krieger also cooperated with the filming of 'Doors' but distanced themselves from the work before the film's release.


Natural Born Killers is filmed and edited in a frenzied style where animation, grainy black-and-white 8 mm film, color 35 mm film, and VHS are intercut and juxtaposed in a psychedelic montage of images showing not only the story's action, but also conveying the thoughts and feelings of the characters. The film was criticized by some for its apparent glorification of violence. Stone refutes this claim, saying that it is a satire of the American media's glorification of violence and violent people. The original screenwriter, Quentin Tarantino, was unhappy with the end result of the film because of the attention Stone gave to the aspects of the story involving the media, and asked that his name be removed from the credits. Tarantino was credited with "Story By" on the final film. In 1997, a book about the making of the film, Killer Instinct was written by Jane Hamsher and published by Broadway Books.

Also in 1997, Stone was one of 34 celebrities to sign an open letter to then-German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, published as a newspaper advertisement in the International Herald Tribune, which protested the treatment of Scientologists in Germany and compared it to the Nazis' oppression of Jews in the 1930s. Other signatories included Dustin Hoffman and Goldie Hawn.

In 2003, Stone travelled to Cuba where he interviewed Fidel Castro for three days. The result was the documentary Comandante where Stone and Castro talk about politics, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Fidel's personal beliefs, the Cuban Revolution, important events from the past 50 years and Castro's views on the future of the revolution. The film was scheduled to air in May 2003 on HBO but was put on hold after an incident where hijackers threatened to kill passengers on a Cuban ferry if they were not taken to the United States. The hijackers were subsequently executed and in response to loud protests from the Miami Cuban lobby HBO pulled the film. To this day it has not been released in the United States and is only available on imported DVDs from Britain. Stone returned to Cuba and shot Looking for Fidel, a documentary dealing with conditions on the island and the relationship between Cuba and the United States. That film was aired on HBO in early 2004. Stone has said he admires the Cuban Revolution and supports Cuba's rights as a sovereign nation free from U.S. influence.

Drug use

Stone loosely based Scarface on his own addiction to cocaine which he had to kick while writing the screenplay. On the DVD of Natural Born Killers: The Director's Cut, one of the producers, Jane Hamsher, recounts stories of taking psilocybin mushrooms with Stone and some of the cast and crew and almost getting pulled over by a police officer—a situation which Stone later wrote into the film. In 1999, Stone was arrested and pleaded guilty to "alcohol and drug charges." He was ordered into a rehabilitation program. He was arrested again on the night of May 27, 2005 in Los Angelesmarker for possession of 2 pounds of marijuana.

Attempted meeting with FARC

In a January 2008 interview with The Observer, Stone expressed disgust for what he claims to be the ongoing U.S.-supported paramilitary violence in Colombiamarker's "war on drugs." He accompanied Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's president and third party negotiator with the Colombian guerilla group known as Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, in the release of three hostages held for over six years, another episode in the humanitarian exchange affair.

The visit was part of his research for an upcoming film he will be directing which addresses the crisis. The FARC, designated a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, was described in a 2005 United Nations report as responsible for "grave" human rights violations, including "murders of protected persons, torture and hostage-taking¨ against ¨women, returnees, boys and girls, and ethnic groups." During The Observer interview, Stone did not condemn the FARC outright; "I do think that by the standards of Western civilization they go too far; they kidnap innocent people. On the other hand, they're fighting a desperate battle against highly financed, American-supported forces who have been terrorizing the countryside for years and kill most of the people. FARC is fighting back as best it can and grabbing hostages is the fashion in which they can finance themselves and try to achieve their goals, which are difficult. They're a peasant army; I see them as a Zapata-like army. I think they are heroic to fight for what they believe in and die for it, as was Castro in the hills of Cuba."Stone made the comments shortly after returning from a trip to Colombiamarker, where he was to have filmed footage of the expected release of three FARC hostages, including a young child named Emanuel. Despite the breakup of the international commission appointed to oversee the release, FARC ultimately released two of the hostages despite their refusal to identify the hostages' exact location. It was subsequently revealed that the FARC could not have released the child because they no longer held him. Instead the child had been placed in foster care and subsequently adopted by the Colombian welfare system (the ICBF) because of signs of child abuse. The purported hostage release had been a FARC ruse all along. Nevertheless, Stone blamed the Colombian government and the United States for the fiasco.

Other work

In 1993, Stone produced a mini series for ABC Television called Wild Palms. In a cameo, Stone appears on a television in the show discussing how the theories in his film JFK had been proven correct (the series took place in a hypothetical future, 2007). Wild Palms has developed a moderate cult following in the years since it aired, and has recently been released on DVD. That same year, he also spoofed himself in the comedy hit Dave, espousing a conspiracy theory about the President's replacement by a near-identical double. In 1997, Stone published A Child's Night Dream, a largely autobiographical novel first written in 1966-1967. After several unsuccessful attempts to get the work published, he "threw several sections of the manuscript into the East River one cold night, and, as if surgically removing the memory of the book from my mind, volunteered for Vietnam in 1967." Eventually, he dug out the remaining pages, rewrote the manuscript, and published it.

In 2003, Stone made two documentary films: Persona Non Grata, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Comandante, about Cuban President Fidel Castro. In 2004, he made a second documentary on Castro, titled Looking for Fidel. (See also Controversy, above.) Stone is directing a short film about the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where the games were held. He was recently granted permission by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to make a documentary about him. Stone had been previously refused permission by the Iranian government when the President's media advisor, Mehdi Kalhor, denounced Stone
   as being part of the "Great Satan" of American culture, despite his opposition to the Bush administration. However, Ahmadinejad approved permission a month later, saying he had "no objections" provided the documentary was based on accurate facts. Stone is due to visit Tehran to negotiate the production of the film with Iranian officials, possibly the president himself.


In 2008, Stone was named the Artistic Director of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Asia.

Stone has recently completed a documentary about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the rise of progressive, leftist governments in Latin America. Stone, who is a supporter of Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, hopes the film will get the Western world to rethink the Venezuelan president and socialist policies. Titled South Of The Border, the documentary is scheduled to premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September 2009.

Future projects

The future of Pinkville remains currently unknown, though Stone is expected to return to the project, following the completion of W. In 2007, Stone was reported to have turned down an invitation to direct a sequel to Wall Street, but in April 2009, it was confirmed that he would in fact direct the Wall Street sequel. Michael Douglas will reprise his oscar-winning role as Gordon Gekko, while original star Charlie Sheen is rumored to make a cameo. Shia LaBeouf has also joined the cast. The Wall Street sequel is set for release in 2010.

Filmography

As director





Other work



  • Escobar (producer) (2009) (announced)


See also



References

Notes

  1. Oliver Stone Biography (1946-)
  2. The religion of director Oliver Stone
  3. Oliver Stone biography on filmmakers.com Retrieved August 4, 2009.
  4. Yale Daily News - Famous Failures
  5. M.J. Simpson Interview with Lloyd Kaufman.
  6. Stone headed to 'Pinkville' along with UA
  7. Variety
  8. Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress)
  9. Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board
  10. "She Slams 'Doors' on Portrayal," New York Post, (March 1991)
  11. Drozdiak, William (1997-01-14). U.S. Celebrities Defend Scientology in Germany, The Washington Post, p. A11
  12. The Observer, ¨Stone: My Part in Baby Hostage Drama,¨ January 6, 2008.
  13. Commission on Human Rights, "Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Colombia." February 28, 2005.
  14. The Observer, "Stone: My Part in Baby Hostage Drama," January 6, 2008.
  15. Associated Press, "DNA Shows Colombia Boy was Rebel Hostage," Joshua Goodman, January 4, 2008.


Bibliography

  • Hamburg, Eric. Nixon: An Oliver Stone Film. Hyperion Books. ISBN 0786881577
  • Riordan, James. Stone: The Biography. (1996)
  • Stone, Oliver. JFK: The Book of the Film. Applause Books. ISBN 1557831270


External links



Online bibliographies



Interviews




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