Full Metal Jacket
Full Metal Jacket

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Certificate: 18 | Released: 1987 | Duration: 1 hr 52 mins | Director: Stanley Kubrick | Studio: Icon Home Entertainment | Genres: Drama - Action/Adventure

In this riveting look at military life during the Vietnam conflict, Stanley Kubrick, who made the powerful antiwar classics PATHS OF GLORY (WWI) and DR. STRANGELOVE (the cold war), once again explores the behavior of men in battle. FULL METAL JACKET, adapted from Gustav Hasford's novel THE SHORT TIMERS, is broken down into two very different parts. The first half of the film focuses on the training of a squad of Marine grunts on Parris Island, and more specifically on the troubled relationship between the brutal drill serg ... (Full plot summary below)

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Full Plot Details

In this riveting look at military life during the Vietnam conflict, Stanley Kubrick, who made the powerful antiwar classics PATHS OF GLORY (WWI) and DR. STRANGELOVE (the cold war), once again explores the behavior of men in battle. FULL METAL JACKET, adapted from Gustav Hasford's novel THE SHORT TIMERS, is broken down into two very different parts. The first half of the film focuses on the training of a squad of Marine grunts on Parris Island, and more specifically on the troubled relationship between the brutal drill sergeant (a frightening Lee Ermey) and an oafish misfit (a brilliant Vincent D'Onofrio) who just happens to be a sharpshooter. The first half ends with a devastating, unforgettable scene, leading into the second half, which takes the grunts to Hue City, the climactic battle of the 1968 Tet Offensive and the turning point of the Vietnam War. The story is told through the eyes of Private Joker (Matthew Modine), a cynical aspiring photojournalist who is soon forced to fight for his life and the lives of his fellow recruits. The sniper scene, which takes place amid bombed-out buildings (rather than in the familiar jungles), serves as a microcosm for the Vietnam War--as well as war in general. FULL METAL JACKET is an unrelenting, intelligent, and challenging examination of war told by a master filmmaker.

Director Stanley Kubrick rips the skin from the face of war to expose the dehumanizing effect of the military on the people fed to its emotional meat grinder in Full Metal Jacket.Through the eyes of an 18-year-old recruit--from his first days in the seeming Hell of Marine boot camp as his superiors try to strip of him his individuality and re-create him as a soldier to the Hell of the 1968 Tet offensive, Kubrick reveals the damage done to the collective human soul by the inhumanity of war.

Closely adapted from Gustav Hasford's 1979 novel The Short-Timers, Full Metal Jacket is one of Stanley Kubrick's stand out movies. Saying that is of course difficult as the meticulous and methodical methods that he uses to tell stories has always kept his work separated from the rest. This time he has turned his attention to the Vietnam War.

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Movie Reviews

Christian Science Monitor - 10.0/10 by David Sterritt What makes the film stunning is less its metaphorical scheme than its cinematic style. Always a matter of flowing camera movement, Kubrick has photographed much of the action with long "traveling shots" that capture time and space as a seamless whole, not fractured into the bits and pieces of standard editing techniques. [26 June 1987]
Chicago Reader - 10.0/10 by Jonathan Rosenbaum Elliptical, full of subtle inner rhymes...and profoundly moving, this is the most tightly crafted Kubrick film since "Dr. Strangelove," as well as the most horrific; the first section alone accomplishes most of what "The Shining" failed to do.
The Globe and Mail (Toronto) - 10.0/10 by Jay Scott May be the best war movie ever made...Different is Kubrick's artistry and control, and his almost perverse, but philosophically progressive, refusal to impart to chaos a coherent narrative contour.
Chicago Tribune - 8.8/10 by Dave Kehr The film has undeniable power, but it's an unusual and unsettling power, a product of a collision between red-hot material and the cool serenity with which Kubrick observes and accepts it. [26 June 1987]
Washington Post - 9.0/10 by Rita Kempley We've seen it all before, most recently in "Gardens of Stone," most romantically in "An Officer and a Gentleman," but never more elegantly than here as Kubrick sustains the athletic ballet of obstacle courses and white-glove inspections for a breathtaking 40 minutes.
San Francisco Chronicle - 7.5/10 by Judy Stone The concluding image of men silhouetted against the dying flares of explosives, as they march to the raucous refrain of the Mickey Mouse Club theme, is masterly, but leaves a viewer curiously discomfited. Whereas "Platoon" shattered civilian complacency about that war, Full Metal Jacket is merely numbing. [26 June 1987]
Newsweek - 10.0/10 by Jack Kroll As brutally unsparing as "Platoon" was, it was ultimately warm and embracing. Kubrick's film is about as embracing as a full-metal-jacketed bullet in the gut. [29 June 1987]
Los Angeles Times - 9.0/10 by Sheila Benson In a superb cast of mostly unknowns -- with the exception of Matthew Modine and Dorain Harewood -- D'Onofrio, who put on 60 pounds for this pivotal role, and Ermey are exceptional. [26 June 1987]

Movie Trivia

  • Vincent D'Onofrio gained 70 pounds for his role as Private Pyle, breaking Robert De Niro's movie weight-gain record for Raging Bull (60 pounds). It took D'Onofrio seven months to put the weight on and nine months to lose it.
  • The entire film was shot in England at Pinewood Studios and at military barracks.
  • R. Lee Ermey's intimidating drill sergeant hardly blinks in any of his scenes. To make the recruits reactions to him more realistic, the actors playing the recruits didn't socialise with Ermey on set at all.
  • Anthony Michael Hall was originally set to play Private Joker, but a disagreement with Stanley Kubrick's perfectionist style of directing lead to him being fired.
  • R. Lee Ermey was involved in a car accident during filming. His jeep skidded off the road at night and he broke all of the ribs on his left side. In some scenes it is noticeable that he doesn't move his left arm at all.

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Full Metal Jacket Awards

Academy Award Nominations: 1

  • 1988: Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium - Michael Herr, Gustav Hasford, Stanley Kubrick

BAFTA Award Nominations: 1

  • 1988: Best Sound - Nigel Galt, Andy Nelson, Edward Tise

Golden Globe Award Nominations: 1

  • 1988: Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture - R. Lee Ermey

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