Full Metal Jacket


"The dead know only one thing: it is better to be alive."

From Full Metal Jacket, 1987

World War II is a memory of the past, a not so distant past that ultimately, its lessons have been passed down from one generation to the next. It speaks of an era where one nation is going against another nation with the belief that the strongest nation is the one that conquers all.

However, as was proven in World War II, waging war against another nation in the quest to conquer it only breeds more contempt from the other peaceful nations. This is what happened during that time. Germany wanted to be the superpower and on its alliance are Japan and the Soviet, however, these countries lost when other nations allied to defeat them. A lot of movies with war as its theme has since been made. One of this is the Full Metal Jacket movie.

The Full Metal Jacket movie is an example of a war movie from the 80’s. It was directed by Stanley Kubrick and unlike other war movies; this tackles the psychology of the marine soldiers. The story is set in Vietnam War and revolves around a US marine who observes how the brutal basic training of his fellow recruits in the street fighting in Hue, Vietnam is producing a dehumanizing effect in every one of them. It portrays the difficulties they’ve been subjected to as well as the way they were mentally trained to think as a marine. It showed to extreme personalities among the trainees. One who believes everything, good or bad that the commander taught and another who refused to yield psychologically to the bad side of marine beliefs.

The Full Metal Jacket looks at the effect of war in the minds of American marines during their service in the Vietnam War. The Full Metal Jacket movie is a two segment story which delves on these effects in American soldiers of war. The first segment shows the life of the new recruits who train under the demanding leadership of Sgt. Hartman. The second segment of the story revolves around one of the recruits named Joker who works as a war correspondent of the Stars and Stripes and focusing his attention on the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War.

The title of the movie Full Metal Jacket refers to the full metal jacket bullet which the infantry riflemen use. The movie starts when a group of United States Marine corps new recruits arrives in Parris Island.

These Marines are set for training under their drill instructor, a gunnery sergeant named Hartman played by R. Lee Ermey. Sgt. Hartman is a very punishing type of officer who let the new recruits goes through a brutal military training. Sgt. Hartman purposely punishes his men in the desire to make them harder soldiers in both mental and emotional aspect.

The second plot of the Full Metal Jacket movie unfolds as the new young marines’ moves on to duty in Vietnam. The real war now unfolds as they face the difficult terrain and the enemies. The movie portrays the internal struggle of the young marine soldiers as they war against the enemy. It showed the psychology behind the bravado of the soldiers.

In this part, the main character Joker, unyielding to the killer psychology of the marines and working as a war correspondent of the marines, is faced with the reality of having to kill in order to survive. The internal conflict he goes through struggling to accept this reality is a moving portrayal of this film.

After graduation, each recruit is assigned to their occupational specialty. A recruit named Joker played by actor Matthew Modine is assigned to basic military journalism when most other recruits were basically sent to the infantry division. On their last day in Parris Island, a recruit named Pyle played by actor Vincent D’Onofrio murdered their drill instructor after reciting the Rifleman’s Creed. After killing Hartman, Pyle also killed himself.

The movie flashes forward in the year 1968 during the Tet Offensive where Joker and other men are in Hue face treats like ambush, Viet Cong Snipers, and booby traps as they move along the city. Joker is already a sergeant and a marine combat correspondent of the Stars and Stripes. Joke is mocked by his colleagues because of his lack of experience in real battle being assigned into journalism right after graduation.

The story ends when during the Tet Offensive, Joker killed a young Vietnamese lady sniper who begs to be killed. After some hesitation Joker who doesn’t have so much experience in real fighting kills a young lady sniper with his sidearm.

Now you maybe you’re thinking of watching this movie. It’s one of those quality war films that is full of drama that’s guaranteed to make you sympathize with the characters as they struggle amidst the setting of Vietnam War.

From World War I to World War II, lessons on conflict and military training had been handed down through the years. People are now afraid to have World War III but with the continued efforts of the United Nations organization, conflicts between nations are settled peacefully.

However, where war is an inevitable course to take to resolve disputes just like the war in Iraq, it is a sure fact that it takes time, lives will be lost and those who remain and survive, the war is now on the inside, a continuous struggle that every soldier with a footlocker is subjected to just like the character in the movie Full Metal Jacket.

Full Metal Jacket is another classic by Stanley Kubrick. The Full Metal Jacket DVD is available in stores or online to watch in your own home theater. It offers a rare, unique glimpse at the struggle of many American soldiers during the Vietnam War.

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