Posted by: benherst | September 23, 2009

Full Metal Jacket Review

Full Metal Jacket
Private “Joker” was in a world of shit. Those three words brought him back to his days Basic Training days at Parris Island in South Carolina. He had heard them roaring from the obscene mouth of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, his drill instructor, describing the fate of a Marine who dies without permission. He had heard them uttered by the deranged Private Pyle, on that fateful night in the head, right before Pyle deployed the “Full. Metal. Jacket.” But now, buried deep in Vietnam while war raged all around him, Private Joker knew that his world was the world of shit. With his helmet bearing the words “BORN TO KILL” and his standard- issue fatigues bearing a peace-symbol pin, Private Joker had begun to question himself.
Private Joker’s story is immortalized in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, a war film depicting the harsh conditions of Marine boot camp and, subsequently, the Vietnam War. Through the ruthless Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (played by R. Lee Ermey), Private Joker (Matthew Modine) and the rest of the squad of recruits learn what it takes to survive in the U.S. Marine Corps. Before they know it, Private Joker and a few other Marines from the squad at Parris Island find themselves deployed to fight in Vietnam. It is here where Kubrick truly engages in a full display of man’s true nature. From the bantering over prostitutes to the gunning down of innocent Vietnamese (“Get Some!”), the viewer witnesses the unforgiving reality of ‘Nam.
From a cinematic standpoint, Full Metal Jacket is brilliantly polished. Kubrick utilizes his distinct attention to detail combined with visual originality to create an expression unlike any other. The film is, in itself, a statement to the country of America regarding the Vietnam War, especially the Tet Offensive of 1968, a tumultuous year for the reeling United States. Nevertheless, as Kubrick always does with care and without compromise, it is a statement that is done right. When he wanted an overtly unsympathetic drill sergeant to berate troops in the movie, he hired an actual Marine drill sergeant to get the job done, even permitting the sergeant to script or improvise his own lines. The film is definitively Kubrick, featuring graphic slow-motion shots alongside tense yet lighthearted scenes (the jelly doughnut segment, for example). Also, an often-overlooked aspect of the film is its suitable soundtrack, which is aided by the inclusion of songs featuring the Marines’ own vocals, such as the “Mickey Mouse” chant in the closing scene.
I was thoroughly impressed by the bold yet complex quality of the film. Not only did the camera-work blow me away, but it helped me gain a new cinematic insight on how to approach a given scene. Due to the fact that I have always been a person who is aware of the small details and minutiae of a movie, I appreciate Kubrick’s effort even more. Though I would indubitably recommend Full Metal Jacket to anyone of age, it should be known that there are several scenes in the movie that are – from the standpoint of humanity – quite hard to swallow.
The various components of the film, from its profane drill instructor to its unique camera perspectives to its distinctive message, make Full Metal Jacket one of the most intricate war movies of all time. Stanley Kubrick’s mastery of the motion picture is certainly on display, this time in a battleground context, from the initial Marine Corps training to the intimate meeting with “Charlie.” However, one of the most important notions of war is showcased in Full Metal Jacket – that is, the unparalleled emotional brotherhood that forms among a military platoon when drastic problems call for drastic solutions. As the surviving Marines sing at the end of the film, “Come along and sing a song and join the family.”

U.S. Marines in Full Metal Jacket

U.S. Marines in Full Metal Jacket


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