Movie Review: Full Metal Jacket


Last Week, I finally managed to watch this movie last weekend. It is my second Kubrick film so far, after A Clockwork Orange. Again, this movie was a bit disturbing. Not as disturbing as A Clockwork Orange though. 

At first, the movie began with recruiting the young men into marines for the Vietnam war. It was kind of funny at first, but I wouldn’t want to be in their place. I especially pitied Leonard Lawrence who didn’t manage to fulfill any task at the beginning. Although the leader of the group, Joker, helped him all the way, he still hid a doughnut in his trunk. Now, the others should get punished for the mistakes he was making. This is a radical and unfair way of punishing, because now his mistakes are not only harming him, but the others. I really was shocked at the scene in which they beat him up with soaps while he sleeps. It was a horrible scene. But somehow, I suspected that he would become a hateful person after that. I even suspected him to be the best at shooting. In the end, he ran amok. This first part of the movie doesn’t only show life at the marines, but also real life of mobbing victims and outsiders. The most optimistic, and innocent guy in the camp becoming a murderer, and in the end killing himself, uttering the words: “I am … in a world … of shit!” That really made me sad. He was hating himself and his life so much, that he was dead inside, seeing himself in a world of shit. Vincent D’Onofrio did a great job in this role. I was quite impressed when he became that disturbed young man, looking to the world with eyes full of hatred. 

The second part of the movie was set in Vietnam during the war. The first shocking scene was the prostitute selling herself for lousy 10 Dollars, to AMERICAN soldiers. That was really sad…

The next disturbing scene was when Private Joker was in helicopter together with his partner and another soldier shooting at people down him. He was a crazy, rather a maniac character, laughing loudly while killing innocent people underneath him. Here is a quote from that scene, the one that disturbed me the most:

Private Joker: Why should we do a story about you?

Door Gunner: ‘Cuz I’m so fuckin’ good! I done got me 157 dead gooks killed. Plus 50 water buffalo, too! Them’s all confirmed!

Private Joker: Any women or children?

Door Gunner: Sometimes!

Private Joker: How can you shoot women or children?

Door Gunner: Easy! Ya just don’t lead ’em so much! Ain’t war hell?

After that, the movie realistically showed the procedure of war. While watching this, I realized that how much Stanley Kubrick actually hates America. I think that the way he showed the war, namely from the perspective of the Americans who imagine to be the elite of the world, and having the right to kill anybody, makes it clear for anyone that they are the oppressors. The most arrogant and brutal oppressors. However, there was one quote that I kind of liked with which Kubrick probably wanted to show the divided opinion that almost every American has about his or her own country:

Progue Colonel: Marine, what is that button on your body armor?

Private Joker: A peace symbol, sir.

Pogue Colonel: Where’d you get it?

Private Joker: I don’t remember, sir.

Pogue Colonel: What is that you’ve got written on your helmet?

Private Joker: “Born to Kill”, sir.

Pogue Colonel: You write “Born to Kill” on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What’s that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?

Private Joker: No, sir.

Pogue Colonel: You’d better get your head and your ass wired together, or I will take a giant shit on you.

Private Joker: Yes, sir.

Pogue Colonel: Now answer my question or you’ll be standing tall before the man.

Private Joker: I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.

Pogue Colonel: The what?

Private Joker: The duality of man. The Jungian thing, sir.

Of course, they have to kill in order to survive. This realization stays in their minds until they die, and this guilt tortures them until the very end. They have to kill in order to survive, but they also strive for peace to prevent killing others. That’s an interesting aspect. And this film successfully shows this dilemma.

My favorite character, though, was Animal Mother played by Adam Baldwin. He actually looked hot in that movie, and spoke out the truth about war. That’s why I liked him so much. And he was fearless, going to rescue his friend in the middle of the battlefield.

When the film was over, I tried to connect the first part with the second part of the movie. In the first part, the important character was definitely Leonard. Joker was the narrator of the whole film of course, but in the first part, he didn’t really tell his own story, but Leonard’s. First, I thought that the connection must be that there are two kinds of war. One is inside of us, and against us. The other kind is outside of us, against other people who don’t stand in any relationship with us. In both wars, you can win or lose. In both, you will die if you lose. And in both, you will survive if you win

Then, I thought about another interpretation, namely of the victims of Joker. He tells the story of how he was prepared for the war at the marines, and then how he survived the war. Nothing of this happened without him killing other people. He might blame himself for the death of Leonard, because he was also one of those who harmed and excluded him. I think this act of hurting him, was the biggest preparation they did for the war. By bullying him, they killed a part in his soul, and in some way took the responsibility for his death. If someone can do such brutal things to another person, then he can also kill unknown people in war. That’s another way I understood the movie. 

Final rating: 8/10:I was quite overwhelmed by this movie. In a good, and in a bad way. Some brutal words almost brought tears into my eyes, and I couldn’t forget the screms of Leonard after finishing watching the movie. Or the dying of the young woman at the end of the movie. However, the message this movie conveys is of great importance, and should be watched by as many people as possible.


4 thoughts on “Movie Review: Full Metal Jacket

    1. Yes, I really want to watch 2001: Space Odysseus. And I also want to watch the book adaption Lolita. I have only seen the one from the 70s.
      I have never heard of the movie Strangelove, but I can imagine that it is another masterpiece.


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