September 7, 2007 / 5:36 AM / 12 years ago

My Lai movie to be reminder of war atrocities: Stone

HANOI, Sept 7 (Reuters Life!) - Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone said he wanted his film portrayal of the 1968 My Lai massacre by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam to serve as a reminder of war atrocities, newspapers reported on Friday.

Film-maker Oliver Stone (R) and former Army Sgt. John Bruhns speak at a news conference in Santa Monica, California May 3, 2007. Stone said he wanted his film portrayal of the 1968 My Lai massacre by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam to serve as a reminder of war atrocities, newspapers reported on Friday. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Stone has been visiting central Vietnam since Wednesday and went to the site of the killing of 500 civilians, mostly women and children, on March 16, 1968, the worst recorded U.S. war crime committed in Vietnam.

Two dailies, Thanh Nien (Young People) and Tuoi Tre (Youth), quoted the director as referring to the U.S. war in Iraq when he talked to survivors of My Lai on Thursday. Americans serving in Iraq have been accused of torturing prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison and of the November 2005 killing of civilians in Haditha.

“Iraq is a terrible nightmare but we have to be reminded of what happened in My Lai, otherwise we would repeat our mistake,” Stone told Thanh Nien in My Lai, a hamlet in Son My village in central Quang Ngai province.

Stone’s $40 million production “Pinkville” is in the early stages and it is not yet known whether filming will take place in Vietnam or another Southeast Asian country.

The film’s title is derived from the U.S. Army name for My Lai, a word play on the derogatory term “pinko” used to describe communists. The communist North Vietnamese forces unified the country in April 1975 after overthrowing the U.S.-backed South Vietnam government.

The newspaper said Stone had asked a man whose mother and four siblings were executed by U.S. soldiers in My Lai when he was just 11 for his opinion about the “Pinkville” movie.

“Vietnamese people do not have much time and we do not want to talk about the sad old stories,” said the man.

Movies about the Vietnam War are familiar turf for real-life veteran Stone, who served as a sergeant in Vietnam.

He has directed four films about the conflict — the Oscar-winning “Platoon” (1986), “Born on the Fourth of July”(1989), “Heaven and Earth” (1993) and a short 1971 film “Last Year in Viet Nam”.

Bruce Willis will star in the new production as William R. Peers, the real-life U.S. Army general who investigated the U.S. killings.

Channing Tatum will portray Hugh Thompson Jr., a U.S. Army helicopter pilot who helped stop the carnage by flying between the attackers and the My Lai villagers, rescued survivors and later testified against the soldiers.

There was no word on who Stone planned to cast in the role of Lieutenant William Calley, who commanded the U.S. troops on the ground in My Lai. Calley was found guilty of murder in 1971 and sentenced to life in prison, but was released in 1974 after many appeals and dishonourably discharged from the army.

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