'Full Metal Jacket' is a film directed by Stanley Kubrick, which is set during the Vietnam War. Filmed entirely in England, the movie is named after the bullet casing which was used by American infantrymen during the Vietnam War. The film looks at the duality of man's nature, and how military training can make anyone a killer.
The film is divided into two very distinct parts. The first part deals with the training of new recruits to the US Marine Corps at Parris during Vietnam War. This part of the film introduces the character of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman to the principle characters of Joker, Cowboy and Lennie Lawrence. The recruits are continually abused by Hartman as he looks to harden them into real soldiers. Lawrence is in particular, the focus of Hartman's caustic and bullying treatment which will eventually lead to the tragedy at the end of the first part of the film. Part two
The second part of the film deals with events which occur during the Tet Offensive of 1968. Joker meets up with some of his old training comrades who were deployed as infantrymen while he became a military journalist. The film then moves towards its surreal conclusion of soldiers singing the Mickey Mouse March via a series of brutal and violent events which leave several characters dead and Joker as a radically altered individual, with a blacker and more existentially basic outlook on life.
Characters and actors
The Full Metal Jacket Cast was unusual in that it included an actual drill instructor in the shape of R. Lee Ermy, as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. Ermy ad-libbed much of his dialogues based upon his own real-life experiences. He is responsible for some of the most famous Full Metal Jacket quotes. Matthew Modine plays James T. 'Joker' Davis, who has 'Born To Kill' written on the side of his helmet, equally wears a peace sign. He rationalises this as Jungian philosophy which relates to the duality of man's nature once again. Vincent D'Onofrio plays the over-weighed and clumsy Leonard Lawrence who is cruelly nicknamed by Hartman as Gomer Pyle, which is derived from a dimwitted character in 'The Andy Griffith Show' television programme.
Overview and interpretation
In many ways, it is a typically opaque Kubrick film in which the two parts are so distinct in setting, tone and event that according to many observers, they have never quite fitted together. Many have suggested that the film is disjointed,while others point to its collage of shocking war events in the second half as a logically presented development with the coming to terms with the essential evil and heartlessness at the raging centre of all wars.