Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Full Metal Jacket
- For the ammunition after which the film is named, see Full metal jacket bullet.
The film has been widely praised for accurately evoking the mood of the Vietnam War from the soldier's point of view. Recurring themes are the contradictions of war, a constant feeling of being out of one's depth, and the idea of combat in Vietnam being part of a different world, with its own rules and customs. The miasma of confusion and angst of the new world begins in boot camp, and spirals down into bloodshed before even landing in Vietnam.
In the aftermath of this film a series of policy changes came about in what was considered acceptable behavior by a drill instructor in the United States Armed Forces. All references to a recruit's family are absolutely forbidden, as is striking a recruit.
The movie was shot mainly on the Isle of Dogs, a peninsula in east London. Palm trees were imported from Spain. The ravaged city scenes were shot in a disused gas works. While this was reasonable for the urban nature of the Tet offensive, it can be attributed to Kubrick's aversion to travel, especially by plane: after receiving death threats during the filming of Barry Lyndon in Ireland, he had decided never again to leave Great Britain.
The first part of the film follows the basic training of a group of Marine recruits during the Vietnam War era under the brutal command of drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (played by R. Lee Ermey, whose performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor ). The drill is depicted as designed to wash away the recruits' personalities and turn them into killers, but the brutal treatment of Leonard 'Gomer Pyle' Lawrence, played by Vincent D'Onofrio results in his murder of the drill instructor. Lawrence then kills himself.
The second part then takes place in Vietnam, mostly focusing on Marine recruit J.T. 'Joker' Davis (Matthew Modine) now a Sergeant and a Stars and Stripes war correspondent, as he covers the Tet Offensive. The 'Joker' soon becomes familiar with both the horror and the absurdity of war. His helmet decorations – the slogan "Born to Kill" and the Peace symbol – exemplify his moral ambiguity. The film concludes with the soldiers' ironic rendition of the theme song to the Mickey Mouse Club. Other songs used in the film are "Hello Vietnam " and "Patriotic Full Metal Jacket Military Cadence ."
The following is a lsit of song titles used through out the film.
- Hello Vietnam - Performed by Johnny Wright
- These boots are made for walking - Performed by Nancy Sinatra
- Wooly bully - Performed by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs
- Surfin' Bird - Performed by The trashmen
- The Marine's Hymn - Performed by The Goldmen
- Chapel Of Love - Performed by The Dixie Cups
- Paint it black - Performed by The Roling Stones
- Kubrick provided the voice of Murphy, the soldier on the other end of the radio communication in the latter part of the film.
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