Random Warner Bros.: Full Metal Jacket

Watching all the movies on the Warner Bros. 50-movie box set that I bought for cheap. This week the random number generator takes us back to the weird wild word of Stanley Kubrick in Full Metal Jacket.

Here’s what happens: During the Vietnam War, we follow a U.S. Marine, nicknamed “Joker” through two stories. First, during basic training, a troubled young cadet clashes with a demanding drill sergeant. Second, once in the ‘Nam, Joker and his fellow Marines are caught under fire from a deadly sniper.

Why it’s famous: Mostly for R. Lee Ermey’s role as the drill sergeant, which has become the definitive drill sergeant performance that all other actors look to. Turns out Ermey was a real drill sergeant before becoming an actor.

Get your film degree: As with every Kubrick movie, everyone on the internet is falling over themselves to ask “But what does it MEAN?” Most folks seem to come to a conclusion about the movie being about the dehumanizing effect of war. The final shot is Joker and the others marching over rubble, mindlessly singing the Mickey Mouse theme song after all the carnage and horror they’ve seen. So, yeah, I can see the “dehumanizing” thing.

Movie geekishness: Everybody says the first half of the movie is the good stuff, and it runs out of steam in the second. I disagree, because upon this rewatch I really got caught up in the fight against the sniper. I especially liked how the characters are filmed to look small and helpless, surrounded by monstrous-looking crumbling, burning buildings.


Thoughts upon this viewing: This movie really plays. If you don’t care about metaphor and just want to see an intense war movie, this is the one.

Next week: Julius Caesar slept here.


Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.


About Mac McEntire

Author of CINE HIGH. amazon.com/dp/B00859NDJ8
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