The creative force behind films such as Platoon, Scarface, Born on the Fourth of July and Wall Street was conferred an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. He officially received the honour from the University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Stuart Croft during a formal ceremony held on campus.
After the ceremony, the Academy Award winner put aside his academic robes to take part in an informal ‘in conversation’ interview in front of an invited audience. As well as discussing his past achievements he discussed his next project, “Snowden”, about Edward Snowden the US government contractor whose revelations were the start of a series of global surveillance disclosures. During the Warwick event Oliver Stone described the film as “a fascinating story- it tells you what’s going on, the new state of things.”
He was interviewed Dr J.E. Smyth of Warwick’s department of History who also organised the event. She said: “Oliver Stone is Hollywood’s most dedicated and influential political filmmaker. Throughout his career he’s asked tough questions about America and its legacies of greed, corruption, and imperialism. I’m delighted that the University of Warwick is honouring his career.”
During the conversation he discussed his repertoire of films and screenplays. He has written and directed over 20 full-length feature films, among them some of the most iconic films of the three decades. Many have been political and even controversial such as “Salvador” (1985), which revealed the U.S. government’s involvement in Central America; “Platoon” (1986), the first of his three Vietnam films; “Born on the Fourth of July” (1989); “JFK” (1991); “Natural Born Killers” (1994); and “Nixon” (1995).
Stone was born September 15, 1946 in New York City. He served in the U.S. Army Infantry in Vietnam in 1967-68, and was decorated with the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for Valor. After returning from Vietnam, he completed his undergraduate studies at New York University Film School in 1971. He worked as a taxi driver, merchant marine, messenger, advertising salesman, and production assistant before breaking through as a filmmaker. His script for “Midnight Express” (1978) earned him his first Academy Award and “Scarface” (1983) transformed the gangster genre and became a cult hit.
Though focused on controversial questions about the U.S., Stone’s films have a global audience and massive cultural impact, among them “Wall Street” (1987), an exposé of American capitalism; “World Trade Center” (2006), a true story of 2 (of only 20) 9/11 survivors; and “The Doors” (1991), a biopic of influential rock icon Jim Morrison. He has produced or co-produced a dozen films including “The People vs. Larry Flynt” (1996), “The Joy Luck Club” (1993), and “Reversal of Fortune” (1990).
Stone’s documentaries include three on Fidel Castro (“Comandante” (2003); “Looking for Fidel” (2004); and “Castro in Winter” (2012)); one on South America, “South of the Border” (2009), prominently featuring Hugo Chavez and six other Presidents in a continent undergoing huge social changes. He also made “Persona Non Grata” (2003) on Israel-Palestine relations.
His recent “The Untold History of the United States” (Showtime, 2012), is a 12-hour televised documentary series interrogating the conventional, triumphalist narrative of U.S. history. The companion book, co-written with Peter Kuznick, was a best seller.
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11 March 2016
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