Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket ★★★★½

Drill Instructor: "Do any of you people know who Charles Whitman was?"


"Drill Instructor: "Charles Whitman shot and killed 12 people from a 28-story observation tower at the University of Texas. Anybody know who Lee Harvey Oswald was?

*All hands shoot into the air*

Through 27 years, Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket has thoroughly proven itself--not only to be one of the most iconic war films of all time, but perhaps the greatest satire of american "patriotism". It's incredible to see how much material has been borrowed from FMJ in the creation of other films. Kubrick's demonstration of wartime psychology and military politics is similarly re-examined in 2005's Jarhead; the "in the shit", brothers-in-arms mentality is more than resonant in Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan/Band of Brothers; and Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds (2009) serves to re-create the grotesque, "get some" brutality in which Kubrick patronizes heroism. FMJ reintroduces us to Kubrick's distant, uncanny cinematography, aiding to the deconstruction of human beings into military assemblage. The film's distinct visual style is overtly contrasted with the use of an eerily comic score ("THE BIRD IS THE WORD"), further dehumanizing it's characters to a state of mental numbness.

The postmodern recreation of the Vietnam war is most notably recognized for it's depiction of "realism"; however, it is Kubrick's self-reflexive framework that has firmly cemented FMJ into cinematic culture. The film is a conscious attack on American ideology as well as the desensitization to violence/war. FMJ is so utterly self-aware that Kubrick includes a rather lengthy track shot of another camera crew filming the same thing: a long line of soldiers waving/smiling to the camera during mid-battle. Comic or tragic?