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Amanda Palmer and Oliver Stone
This special edition of The Fabulous Picture Show salutes a filmmaking legend – Oliver Stone.

Entertainment editor Amanda Palmer interviews the man behind Platoon, Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July, Natural Born Killers, JFK and many more.

Following a special screening of his latest presidential biopic, W. (which chronicles the life of George W. Bush), Oliver Stone joins The Fabulous Picture Show audience to answer their plethora of questions.

Oliver Stone is undeniably one of America's most controversial filmmakers.

He has never been afraid to question, comment upon or uncover the truth through his films, and it is this resolve that has given him a career that has spanned more than three decades, acquired him three Oscars and other accolades worldwide, and given him a reputation as a filmmaker that has never played by the rules.

Oliver Stone was born in 1946. His father was an American Jewish Republican and his mother a French Roman Catholic. He grew up in affluent townhouses in Manhattan and Stamford, Connecticut. After his parents divorced when he was 16 years old, his father declared that he had no money left – he could put him through college but that would be it. After a year at Yale, Stone dropped out, and eventually enlisted in the army and became an infantry soldier in Vietnam. 

Josh Brolin as George Bush in Stone's biopic, W
It was his experiences in Vietnam that built his early filmmaking career.

After returning from Vietnam, he enrolled in film school, where Martin Scorsese was one of his tutors.

His first film was a short, Last Year in Viet Nam, about a Vietnam war veteran wandering the New York City streets.

His first Oscar, Best Screenplay for Midnight Express, came in 1976. It was the story of a man who was caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison, dramatised from a true event.

However, it was not until 1986 that Oliver Stone's filmmaking career was cemented with the first of his Vietnam trilogy, Platoon, starring Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, and Francesco Quinn. Berenger and Dafoe received Oscar nominations for their roles, and Stone won his first Best Director Oscar for the film, which also won Best Picture and was a hit at the box office.

The first of Stone's Vietnam trilogy - Platoon
was followed by the critically acclaimed Wall Street, a film that garnered Michael Douglas an Oscar for his villainous portrait of Gordon Gekko. 

It is a film whose resonance could not be more apt than in today's uncertain climate.

Following on from Wall Street, the second of Stone's Vietnam trilogy, Born on the Fourth of July, earnt Tom Cruise an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Ron Kovic, a real life Vietnam veteran who was injured during the Vietnam War and left paralysed.

Stone has openly stated that JFK is probably his best film. The film hypothesises that many high-level government officials had a hand in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

In 1991, Stone screened the film to Congress on Capitol Hill, and this helped lead to the passage of the Assassination Materials Disclosure Act of 1992.

Michael Douglas in his Oscar-winning performance as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street
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.

Following JFK, Stone made films that satirised American society and the glorification of violence in the media, notably Natural Born Killers, which instead of being taken as a satirical piece was digested by many at face value.

In 2003, Stone made two documentaries. 

He travelled to Cuba where he interviewed Fidel Castro for three days. The result was the documentary Comandante, in which 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.

Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers
In the same year he also made Persona Non Grata, a documentary about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It includes interviews with Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu, former prime ministers of Israel, Yasser Arafat, the late president of the Palestinian National Authority, and various Palestinian activists.

Stone returned to Cuba in 2004 and shot Looking for Fidel, a documentary dealing with conditions on the island and the relationship between Cuba and the US.

This Fabulous Picture Show special gives a rare insight into the man behind films that have never veered onto the side of caution.

This episode of The Fabulous Picture Show will be broadcast at the following times GMT:
Saturday, December 06:
0830, 2230; Sunday, December 07: 0630, 1930; Monday, December 08: 0300; Tuesday, December 09: 1430; Wednesday, December 10: 0130, 1230, 1900; Thursday, December 11: 0330, 1400, 2330; Friday, December 12: 0730

Source: Al Jazeera