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Plot: A two-segment look at the effect of the military mindset and war itself on Vietnam era Marines. The first half follows a group of recruits in boot camp under the command of the punishing Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. The second half shows one of those recruits, Joker, covering the war as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes, focusing on the Tet offensive. Runtime: 116 mins Release Date: 25 Jun 1987
Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket seems like an uncompleted film, but to me that's poetic justice to one of America's uncompleted wars. The film is harsh and doesn't turn a blind eye to the atrocities of Vietnam. Kubrick is the true master of atmosphere in film. He makes you feel like you are there. Friends of mine have commented that they only like the first half of the film and that the second half falls apart. I believe Kubrick sets up the first half to be an understandable reflection of the terror that would eventually enter the lives of these soldiers during war. It is <more>
easy to identify with being picked on because we all have in some way. Not all of us, on the other hand, have fought in war. Kubrick is the master.
A Movie that you will always wonder about (by shannonphoenix)
"Full Metal Jacket" is one of the legends of any service person in basic training. As a young recruit in the Army, we talked about it, and we talked about it further and it is one of those movies that you always find something new to say about. The beginning, the young men come to be trained as "killers." And it is at this point where you may realize later that not everyone is meant to be in the military, example, Leonard Pyle. He is a nice kid with probably a good sense of humor, probably liked among for his sense of humor and would have done better in college, but <more>
instead is in the Marine Corp where he does not fit in well. Then you have Hartman excellent portrayal by Gunny Ermy who has the heartless job of making killers out of these young men. It is here that you question if he is truly mean spirited or is doing what he knows he has to do by being as hard as he can so that these young men will survive the horrors of war. This is a point that I think is sometimes missed. Joker, a rather smart young man, attempts to take Leonard under his wing and the two become friends until Leonard messes up and is given a "blanket party" by the rest of the platoon. Hartman is the reason for this, but behind this hides another reason; he has to make them tough and solid so that they will work as a team and have each other's backs in combat. He knows this to be true, but no one else does. This sends Leonard into a psychotic break and for a while, Hartman begins to show interest in Leonard due to his progress. Joker, noticing the change in Leonard, does not bring this to anyone's attention and thus begins his journey through his own private war because he believes from his inaction, he may have been the cause for the aftermath of the confrontation of Leonard and Hartman and the eventual fate of Leonard.After that, the movie shifts and they are in Vietnam and only then does Joker begin to see why Hartman was so mean as he sees his friends become more like Leonard and may be destined to share his fate. When the young sniper is shot is when a part of humanity returns to Joker and we are left to guess at what follows.The performances by Ermy, Modine and D'Onofrio were remarkable, especially D'Onofrio. I often wonder what went on behind the scenes, especially with a seasoned Marine war vet such as R. Lee Ermy on the set. I often wonder how much he contributed to the movie as an actual adviser.By the way, I am a Gulf War I Army Veteran and I am female, so it could be that I may be looking at this differently. Females usually were not in combat situations, but some were. I do wish the movie would have shown that a little, but as far as making you think, I think the movie did what it was suppose to do.
Stanley Kubrick always managed to bring something new to his palate whenever he made a film. He brought dark comedy to the screen with Dr. Stranglove, an epic story with Spartacus, and a film more important for its efforts than box office potential in the film Paths of Glory. This is what makes Full Metal Jacket so entertaining.Humor, horror and political commentary are the themes which shape Full Metal Jacket. From the overbearing drill sergeant to the war loving soldiers. It all seems to make sense within this film, never overstepping its bounds or being to subtle. Kubrick may have <more>
alienated some his hardcore fans with such a mainstream-type story, but then again, he helped mainstream movies take a bold step. What doesn't the current cinema owe Kubrick?
Still modern today, all too modern. (by guy-bellinger)
One of the greatest war movies ever, a statement very few will dispute. I will therefore not illustrate this point : thousands have done it before me, often brilliantly.I'd rather lay the stress on Kubrick's modernity in "Full Metal Jacket". Indeed the USA being once again at war, it is interesting to compare the way they wage war these days with the way they did back in the sixties. And the comparison is edifying. Just apply the following statements to Iraq and you will realize NOTHING HAS CHANGED : - the marines are trained to become killing machines without being taught <more>
minimum knowledge about the people they come to defend. - the boys know nothing about the Vietnamese and reason according to American standards : for instance "Cow-Boy" complains half-jokingly half-seriously that there are no horses in Vietnam. Another example is the soldiers singing the Mickey Mouse Club hymn after fighting, which strikes as particularly out of place. - they try in vain to impose democracy through gruesome violence and destruction. Such similarities abound and testify to the film's absolute - and unfortunate - modernity. I wish Kubrick was still with us. I also wish George Bush and his advisers had seen this masterpiece and - most of all - understood its message. They would have avoided another bloody war doomed to fail.
Full Metal Jacket 30 years later (by alanbenfieldjr)
Strange, as I sat to watch Full Metal Jacket for the first time in years, what I remembered most was Lee Emery's Sgt Hartman's rantings and Vincent D'Onofrio. In fact, it was Vincent D'Onofrio's Pvt Lawrence, known as "Gomer Pyle" that made this Stanley Kubrick film, truly memorable. I'm noticing this more and more as I get older and revisit old films. The performances, certain performances, even in supporting roles allow a film to keep growing with the passing of time. Full Metal Jacket a shattering film or I should say, two shattering films. The first part, <more>
the training, the intro is a masterpiece practically impossible to match up, so, the second part doesn't match it. But, still. A film-experience. Vincent D'Onofrio's performance even more powerful now, 30 years later. Enormous! The British skies over Vietnam is another reminder than an artist's eye knows no boundaries.
In a World of S**T, they are not Afraid.... (by WriterDave)
Kubrick's films are generally more accessible and mainstream than he is often given credit for. As gritty and unflinching as his take on the Vietnam War is, this is for my money his most mainstream work. Kubrick gives us a "grunts-eye-view" of military training and combat in a war that was particularly unpopular and well documented. This was the first war to be fully televised on TV, and Kubrick pokes fun at the soldier's awareness of this, and of the dubious nature of the propaganda put out by the military's own front-line reporting. Here we get a world-wind tour <more>
speckled with dark humor but never too much politics, a similar stance that benefited the recent "Jarhead," which owes a world of debt to this film , excellent use of pop music who thought Kubrick could go all Scorcese on us , and brutal sequences of hard-edged violence.My one complaint is that Matthew Modine is extremely underwhelming in the lead role, but the rest of the ensemble is top notch. Lee Ermey is perfect as the sadistic but oddly sympathetic drill instructor who turns maggots into killing machines in boot camp, and Arliss Howard is especially good as the underwritten "Cowboy." Kubrick, always the master of his art, leaves us with some lasting images, most notably D'Onofrio's stare-down before blowing his brains out, which is mirrored later on by a young female Vietnamese sniper begging to be put out of her misery after being fatally wounded. Kubrick also closes the film with something he doesn't often do, a wink to the audience, as our grunts, now combat weary and barely alive, march to the theme of the "Mickey Mouse Club" showing that indoctrination started long before they were dehumanized in boot camp and rebuilt as "The Core." Semper Fi, indeed.
The movies finally got Parris Island right (by brujay-1)
Though I've read only a couple of dozen of the nearly 500 comments on this film, I didn't see any from ex-Marines who'd had the Parris Island experience. I went through PI in 1957. The time period in the picture would have been about 1967, since the in-country sequence includes the '68 Tet Offensive. Little had changed in those 10 years except the switch from M1s to M16s. For the most part Kubrick got Parris Island right on the money. And why shouldn't he have, since his screen DI, Lee Ermey was in fact a real DI before he started acting he played another DI in "The <more>
Boys of Company C," an earlier and lesser Vietnam flick ? He had a built- in technical adviser. The screams and insults and profanity and physical punishment were all part of the DIs armamentarium. When you're facing up to 75 young strangers you need to immediately establish absolute authority and hang on to it for 13 weeks. Furthermore, you want to break the breakable as soon as you can. My platoon had its Private Pyles and though none ended up as he does in "Full Metal Jacket," I remember that they simply disappeared from our ranks, never to be heard from again. Nothing Ermey as Sgt. Hartman does is exaggerated.Kubrick, however, does exaggerate. Speaking of Pyle's ending, it's almost impossible for me to imagine that a recruit could manage to sneak a clip of live rounds away from the rifle range. Every shooter at the range has his own rifle coach, and every single round is very carefully accounted for. Kubrick started the killing one scene too early.I've read that DIs nowadays are forbidden to use the time-honored f-word, and are not allowed to lay hands on recruits. I don't know if that's good or bad for training I had my face slapped hard my first day of boot camp and that was just for openers , but then all of us old-timers like to brag about how tough it useta be!A final note: It's interesting to compare "Full Metal Jacket" to another attempt at a portrayal of Parris Island, Jack Webb's "The DI," made around '55 or '56. Webb tries for authenticity, but as I was to learn a year or so later, his PI was a boy scout camp.
Repeated viewings reveal more details and connections (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
The first third of Stanley Kubrick's take on the Vietnam War is as powerful and shocking as any film ever made about the military In the film's opening shots, we see close-ups of new Marine recruits getting their heads shaved at a military training post The next shot follows Hartman R. Lee Ermey as he strides through a barracks and completes the first stage of the young men's intimidating indoctrination into the Marine Corps The scene also establishes the measured pace that Kubrick maintains throughout Booming, gloriously profane, and imaginative, Sgt. Hartman is a force <more>
of nature that will mold these boys into killing machines At that point, most war films would turn to the young men, sketch out their pasts and then show their transformation into a cohesive unit These kids are names and archetypes who will react differently to Hartman's approach Kubrick makes Ermey such a mesmerizing force that one key early element is easy to overlook From the first moment we see him in the barber's chair, before we even know his name, it is abundantly clear that Leonard is mad He has that familiar vacant, smiling, dull-eyed expression of evil that Kubrick also uses to define Little Alex in "A Clockwork Orange" and Jack Torrance in "The Shining." The other characters do not see it, and so the inevitable confrontation between Hartman and Leonard is all the more horrifying The middle section of the film establishes Joker's role as a war reporter, working behind the lines during the Tet Offensive of 1968, and his desire for some "trigger time" with his old pals from basic That's where Kubrick shapes his view of the Vietnam war In the third part, a new sociopath named Animal Mother Adam Baldwin is introduced, and the focus shifts to a patrol searching through the bombed out city of Hue to root out a sniper That is where the filmmakers comment most pointedly on the war itself They see it as a dead-end that serve no purpose That's certainly a valid artistic interpretation of history Many other films have made the same points, often more eloquently But Kubrick isn't interested in eloquence, either The three sections are unmistakably separated from each other The first stands on its own though key elements are stated again at the end For the viewer expecting a "traditional" war film, the result is disconcerting, frustrating, and somehow unfinished Most Kubrick fans will admit that "Paths of Glory" and "Dr. Strangelove" are more enjoyable, but even if their man is not in top form, "Full Metal Jacket" is challenging, and repeated viewings reveal more details and connections
`The dead know only one thing: it's better to be alive' (by auberus)
Mr. Stanley Kubrick was not a prolific director. After 71 years walking this Earth he left us with only 16 movies among which some of the most powerful cinematic experience to date. `Full Metal Jacket' is part of Mr. Kubrick's list of masterpiece and was released 12 years before his last movie `Eyes Wide Shut' as War always precedes Denial.Having a total control on his Picture from the writing to the editing, what you see on the screen is what he wanted you to see and what we see is close to a perfect demonstration: One can learn to kill. Through this learning one looses his <more>
individuality. By loosing his individuality one can loose is Innocence and reach Madness and of course during all those steps something can go wrong To make this demonstration as obvious on paper as on screen you have to be methodic as methodic as Stanley Kubrick and you have to have the right actors and the right acting. Matthew Modine Pvt Joker , Vincent D'Onofrio Pvt Gomer Pyle and R.Lee Ermey Gunnery Sgt. Hartman are a good example of how pristine the casting was. In order to draw a clear conclusion Stanley Kubrick used the chapter technique and delivers a 2 chapters demonstration. Chapter One The building of a Corp. The Training. Here Mr. Kubrick shows us how a Marine Corp. is built, how one can learn to kill and how through this learning one looses his individuality. This building has to go through 2 major processes: Humiliation and Team building. The humiliation process consists in the destruction of your ego, because your ego is what makes you unique. If an organization breaks your ego then you are most likely to be just like everybody else. Private Gomer Pyle is the perfect example of how someone goes through this humiliating process: he is the most humiliated Private and we all remember this wonderful quote from the Gunnery Sergeant Hartman Drill Instructor R.Lee Ermey :'Are you quitting on me?! Well, are you?! Then quit, you slimy *beep* walrus-looking piece of *beep*! etc ' The second process in the building of a Corp., is in fact the team building process: It is an equally important process because at the end of this process each team member only exists through the team, alone each of them is `equally worthless' as our favorite Sergeant Instructor would say. Obviously something will go wrong because there is no such thing as invincibility it's a chimer at best, a lie . The suicide scene is therefore the transition between the notion of individuality and the notion of Corp., between chapter one and chapter two. Admirably played by our 3 protagonist Private Joker and Pyle and the Sergeant Drill Instructor it emphasis the only true statement of the movie: `we live in a world of *beep*' and `the dead know only one thing: it's better to be alive'. Chapter Two Disintegration of a Corp. The War. This second piece of the demonstration one can loose his innocence is fueled with two dynamics: the desire of the killing and the reality of war. The desire of the killing is impersonating by Pvt `Joker', he is a combat correspondent who doesn't really understand the meaning of this War. At the same time he is `born to kill' and think that the combat will bring meaning to this absurdity. This contradiction is very well sum up in the following memorable quote from Pvt Joker: `I wanted to meet stimulating and interesting people of an ancient culture and kill them. I wanted to be the first kid on my block to get a confirmed kill.' As soon as Pvt Joker links up with Pvt Cowboy, Mr. Kubrick makes us dive in `the reality of war' and the disintegration of the Corp. begins: The lieutenant goes first with him the authority, one by one the Marines falls under the fire of a sniper. The climax of this chapter is the fugitive vision of the sniper. The platoon has reached the border of Madness, where `a day without blood is like a day without sunshine'. Did Pvt Joker found the meaning he was looking for? Can we control the dogs of war once we've unleashed them? Once again there is no lesson only one statement as the thoughts of Pvt Joker `drift back to erect nipple wet dreams about Mary Jane Rottencrotch and the Great Homecoming *beep* Fantasy.' He is `so happy that he is alive, in one piece and short. He lives in a world of *beep* yes. But he is alive and not afraid'. Innocence is lost forever left on the ground by the corpses and their `Full Metal Jackets'.