Stanley Kubrick's 1987, penultimate film seemed to a lot of people to be contrived and out of touch with the '80s vogue for such intensely realistic portrayals of the Vietnam War as Platoon and The Deer Hunter. Certainly, ... more »Kubrick gave audiences plenty of reason to wonder why he made the film at all: essentially a two-part drama that begins on a Parris Island boot camp for rookie Marines and abruptly switches to Vietnam (actually shot on sound stages and locations near London), Full Metal Jacket comes across as a series of self-contained chapters in a story whose logical and thematic development is oblique at best. Then again, much the same was said about Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, a masterwork both enthralled with and satiric about the future's role in the unfinished business of human evolution. In a way, Full Metal Jacket is the wholly grim counterpart of 2001. While the latter is a truly 1960s film, both wide-eyed and wary, about the intertwining of progress and isolation (ending in our redemption, finally, by death), Full Metal Jacket is a cynical, Reagan-era view of the 1960s' hunger for experience and consciousness that fulfilled itself in violence. Lee Ermey made film history as the Marine drill instructor whose ritualized debasement of men in the name of tribal uniformity creates its darkest angel in a murderous half-wit (Vincent D'Onofrio). Matthew Modine gives a smart and savvy performance as Private Joker, the clowning, military journalist who yearns to get away from the propaganda machine and know firsthand the horrific revelation of the front line. In Full Metal Jacket, depravity and fulfillment go hand in hand, and it's no wonder Kubrick kept his steely distance from the material to make the point. --Tom Keogh« less
Brad S. (Snibot) from DALLAS, TX Reviewed on 5/24/2012...
One of the best war movies ever, right up there with Saving Private Ryan, and Platoon. Plus the DVD has Portuguese language which I really appreciated.
Everyone puts on a great performance, Vincent D'Onofrio as Private Piles really grabs the show in the beginning, and I have watched just the first 40 minutes of the film easily four times as many times as the whole movie. Lee Ermey As the Drill Instructor gives us another perfect Character performance the likes of which he is now famous for.
This is a keeper in the collection if you are into war movies, Ladies will normally not get into this film, so it is not for a date night.
The Jungian thing...
Wing J. Flanagan | Orlando, Florida United States | 01/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stanley Kubrick has been quoted as saying that with Full Metal Jacket, he wanted to make a war film, as opposed to an ANTI-war film. Condemning war is easily. It's a moral no-brainer. Trying to understand its nature is something far more challenging. As a result, Full Metal Jacket does something far more subtle and difficult than simply tell us that War is Hell (although it does that, too). To understand what and how, one must consider the film's structure:Full Metal Jacket is split brutally into two parts, the first of which follows our hero, Private Joker (Matthew Modine) through basic training at Parris Island. A tubby, slow-witted misfit named Leonard Lawrence (Vincent D'Onofrio in an effective performance) is pushed too hard by the sadistic drill instructor Hartmann (R. Lee Ermey), and ends up killing both Hartman and himself in the Grand Guignol blackout sketch that ends part one.It is at this point that many people have trouble with Full Metal Jacket, as the second half jumps to Viet Nam with no warning. Although Joker and another character named Cowboy (Arliss Howard) carry over from the first part of the film, they never so much as talk about Parris Island or the murder-suicide that marked their training there. It is as though that event happened in another universe, or at least a different movie. The key to this apparent gaffe in story cohesion is contained in a scene where Joker is confronted by a Major over having "Born to Kill" scrawled on his helmet at the same time he wears a peace symbol on his flak jacket."I was trying to say something about the duality of man," he says, "...the Jungian thing, SIR!"Duality of man; duality of film. There are (in the film's developing thesis) two possible motivations for killing people and breaking things - compassion (to defend freedom and turn back despotism; our OFFICIAL purpose in Viet Nam), and annihilation (the perverse joy of revenge, of domination; of blood-soaked victory).Which motivation is more "moral"? Which leads to the "high-ground"? Doesn't annihilation always entail moral decay? And doesn't compassion always lead, ultimately, to peace, rather than violence? Through Joker's journey, from killer-in-training to killer-in-fact, we get a disturbing answer that, by its very simplicity, defies the kind of dumbed-down platitudes most war films (even really good ones like Kubrick's own Paths of Glory) try to feed us. The end finds Joker facing a wounded, disarmed sniper who has killed several of his fellow soldiers, as well as his best friend. In a typically Kubrickian reversal, the sadistic thing would be to "...leave her to the mother-lovin' rats..." (in other words, leave her in PEACE), rather than finish her off, which seems the more humane choice (through a paradoxical act of VIOLENCE). The sniper, a teenaged girl, even begs Joker to shoot her. It seems a simple, humanitarian act when he finally pulls the trigger, but in a long, ambiguous close-up on his face, we see the same demon lurking in Joker's eyes that haunted Lawrence back in Parris Island, just before he killed Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, then himself. The connection is clear; even the same music cue (by Kubrick's daughter Vivian, under the pseudonym of "Abigail Mead") can be heard on the sound track. By setting up a situation where both possible choices (to kill or not to kill) seem at once sadistic and kind, virtuous and evil, we are forced to see the situation on a more abstract level - where words fail, but a horrible insight reveals itself. The nature of war, it seems to suggest, is the nature of mankind - and vice-versa.Kubrick's production values are first-rate. The DVD looks and sounds quite good, given the source material (Kubrick's muted palette is deliberate; his original sound mix was a fairly compressed monaural track). One particular use of a Steadicam with a slightly longer-than-ideal lens is inspired, giving us a view shaky enough to seem "real" but smooth enough to be fluid.In the Kubrick canon, Full Metal Jacket is a hotly debated film. Whether you love it or hate it, just remember: it's a Jungian thing."
At last you too can know what war is really like
Donald C. Davis | El Lay | 12/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was drafted out of college in 1968 when graduate school deferments ended. Yes, I know I could have avoided the whole thing just by swearing that I was homosexual or handicapped or by convincing my father to win a Senate seat. Alas, Dad was a World War II vet who worked for Ford and who thought it was about time I started acting like a man. And, I was young then and idealistic and it seemed important to me that year that I should share the same risks that other young men were being compelled to take.
At least, unlike so many of my peers, I have not since been forced to wonder what I missed. Because, I didn't really miss any of it.
Most of the war movies that have been produced since Vietnam have been made by men who have never heard a shot fired in anger and have been haunted by what they missed all their lives. For example, 'Saving Private Ryan' looks and sounds and feels nothing like war. I have always felt insulted by 'Apocalypse Now.' And, 'Platoon' sometimes looks like Vietnam but not usually and I don't really think Oliver Stone has anything more to say on the subject of that war that what Jane Fonda has already said a thousand times. And, I realize it is idiosyncaratic of me, but I also had a good friend named Jack Rambo who met a tragic and painful end in late November 1969 and so I have always been annoyed that Sylvester Stallone, who spent the war hiding in Switzerland, should not only give himself permission to appropriate my friend's name but go on to more or less slander all Vietnam Vets at the same time and then get rich by doing it.
But 'Full Metal Jacket' is very different from all these other Vietnam films. Most of the kids with whom I served were bright, funny, anti-authoritarian, ironic, tough and very dangerous. So are the characters in this movie. I have probably been asked a hundred times: "Well, did you ever actually kill somebody?" and then the inevitable, "Well what was it like?" Well, if you actually want to know, watch the smartass protagonist of this movie try to rise above the Marine Corps with his intellect and cleverness. Watch him go out with a patrol that gets lost--because really, you aren't actually in combat unless you're lost. Watch kids get picked off. Watch another kid do something really angry, stupid and brave. Watch them line up, pop smoke and go waste a slope. Then watch them skip home in the dark singing the Mickey Mouse song. That is pretty much what my war looked like.
The other day I heard our President say that he and Donald Rumsfeld had "been through a war together" these last few years. I think it haunts the President that he "missed" Vietnam. I once heard James Jones say, "I would never want my son to go to war but I would have to tell him that if he didn't go that not going would haunt him for the rest of his life." Now I live in a nation governed by men who are haunted by "not going." And, I think they could have saved us all a world of heart break if they had just watched this movie instead of having to prove what tough guys they are by invading Iraq. Donald Charles Davis"
Research the Aspect Ratio
Funk Town | 09/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In response to the complaints made by some reviewers that Full Metal Jacket is not available in a widescreen ratio, the full screen ratio shown here was Kubrick's intended ratio for home viewing. Unlike many films that are shot and exhibited in a widescreen ratio, then cropped to a standard ratio for home theater release, Full Metal Jacket was originally shot in standard. For the theatrical release, the top and bottom of the film were cut off to create a widescreen aspect ratio. Then, for the home release, these excised portions of the film were returned. So the full screen dvd version of Full Metal Jacket actually has a larger picture than the widescreen release. If you really desire the widescreen aspect ratio, try out the blu-ray or hd dvd releases of the film. However, if Kubrick originally wanted the film to be released onto video with the standard ratio, have the blu-ray and hd dvd companies completely disregarded his wishes in favor of increasing sales by releasing the widescreen versions, or has the Kubrick family approved the change? One can only wonder"
As a former Marine, this movie holds a bit of nostalgia for
Ronald E. Jones | Mount Juliet, TN | 03/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I spent 1992-2001 in the Marine Corps Infantry. And this movie is a favorite among Marines no matter where they are.
While I think that it is absolutely inappropriate for children, you will have to make that decision on your own as a parent. But be warned, the language in this movie is very harsh.
R. Lee Ermey plays the part of Senior Drill Instructor Gunnery Seargeant Hartman (that's a mouthfull), his euphemisms, mannerisms and behavior are perfect. He absolutely nailed it.
If you've got any friends, relatives or acquaintances that are in the Corps, this is always a winner of a gift. Particularly if they are getting ready for deployment (ship life is a drag).
A caveat about reality...with the demise of conscription and the institution of the "all volunteer force," Drill Instructors no longer administer corporal punishment (i.e. they do not strike the recruits). Anyone who tells you otherwise is either a former recruit trying to embellish the experience (for amorous purposes no doubt), or smear the Marine Corps (for nefarious purposes no doubt)."
Well Worth Buying (again)
Michael A. Anderson | 10/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a fan of this film like me and had bought the Blu-Ray or HD-DVD before and thought "This is hi-def?", then you're in for a treat. This newly remastered version has a sharper picture and better color image and new commentaries to boot. While not as stunning a transfer as "The Shining" or "2001", this is still a much improved re-release. Trade in your old copy and purchase with confidence."