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Movie Reviews

Full Metal Jacket



Released: September 11th 1987 UK)

Director:Stanley Kubrick

Stars: Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey

Certificate:18 (UK)

Reviewer: Luke Walkley

This is my rifle, this is my gun. There are many like it, but this one is mine’
This may be the case when it comes to firearms. However you will be hard pressed to find a film that truly shows the dehumanising effects of war, as well as Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket manages to.

The story follows the traumatic training regime, a group of US Marine recruits suffer at the hands of their trainer, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman ( R.Lee Ermey). Split in two parts, we witness the brutality of life as a recruit and then the harsh reality of war. This description may sound verbatim to many other films in the war (specifically Vietnam) genre; however the sheer intensity of Kubrick’s film means it finds itself in a league of its own.
The first segment, training mainly focuses on one recruit, nicknamed Private Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio) and the physical and mental torture he suffers at Hartman’s hands. The scenes within this section show the true bipolar nature of this film. From fantastically humorous dialogue (singing Happy Birthday to Jesus Christ on Christmas Day) to an extremely emotional and at some points, sickening level. Not on a gore scale, but through witnessing the events unfolding and the psychological effects caused by such a situation and place.
Whilst the back and forth nature of this film continues into the second section, set in Vietnam, there is a higher degree of surrealism. Focusing on the marines deployed from Hartman’s section, the devastating effect war can have on people and places, becomes apparent to a startling degree. Desperation and deprivation is all around, while forcing the men to make the choice of kill, or be killed.

Full Metal Jacket serves almost as the anti-war film, in much the same way an anti-drugs advert shows the effects and end results of something destructive. It is this aspect that creates the suspense and realism that other war films lack.

The film benefits from a fantastic soundtrack that helps to lighten the mood following some of the darker scenes. This is also the case with some of the dialogue used in the film; the humour entwined with the horror is perfectly balanced so as to break up the underlying serious nature of the film.

Containing some memorable light-hearted and hard hitting scenes. From scenes of insanity to the infamous De Nang prostitute scene, Full Metal Jacket really is one of a kind. It is that rare breed of film that you love to watch but find it hard to put on due to its intensity.
Perhaps, THE defining film of its genre. Full Metal Jacket, we certainly do love you long time…

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