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Bangkokians mistake Hollywood-Hired tanks

Bangkokians mistake Hollywood-Hired tanks

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Tanks and troops appeared on the streets of Bangkok,

sparking fears that yet another military coup was being staged, local newspapers

reported on Dec. 14.

But the military deployment Dec. 13 turned out to be Hollywood hiring Thais to recreate

the Vietnam War.

The Bangkok Post reported that startled motorists around the Royal Plaza-a focus

of military action in coups past-telephoned to inquire whether another power grab

was under way.

Six tanks, 10 military trucks and about 2,000 Thai extras were hired for a scene

from "Heaven and Earth," directed by Oliver Stone. The movie tells the

real life story of a Vietnamese woman caught up in the war.

Stone, a Vietnam War combat veteran, is the director of several popular films including

"Wall Street," "JFK" and the award-winning Vietnam movie "Platoon."

Most of the shooting for "Heaven and Earth" has been done on the Thai resort

island of Phuket. A section of the capital was used to recreate a typical Vietnamese

urban scene.

The Royal Plaza, around which several 19th and early 20th century buildings are set,

was used to recreate Saigon, the capital of what was once South Vietnam.

Military coups have plagued Thailand since 1932 when absolute monarchy was abolished.

Many have been bloodless and consisted of a show of force, often tanks rumbling through

the streets of Bangkok.

Last May, the military gunned down pro-democracy demonstrators during four days of

street violence. The protests led to the ouster of a military strongman and democratic

elections.

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