Full Metal Jacket

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For the ammunition after which the film is named, see Full metal jacket bullet.

Template:Infobox Movie Full Metal Jacket (1987) is a film by Stanley Kubrick based on the novel The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford. The film is named after the full metal jacket ammunition used in military weapons.

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 on Paris Island, SC 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 elimnate virtually all trace of the recruits' individual personalities and transform 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 decoration – the slogan "Born to Kill" – and the Peace symbol pin on his uniform exemplify his moral ambiguity. In one particularly comic scene Joker is confronted by an army Colonel, played by Bruce Boa, demanding to know why he has a peace symbol on his uniform and "Born To Kill" on his helmet. Joker attemtps to explain the duality of man theory postulated by Carl Jung which is obviously lost on the blustering colonel. 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 film's end credits are accompanied by The Rolling Stones "Paint It Black."


The movie is a satire on the Vietnam war and the soldiers involved in the war. The main theme of the movie is conflicting duality which the director has incorporated in several levels of the movie. The confliciting duality is irony exhibited by the characters and the conflicting nature of the war.

In the most basic level, the movie itself is dual in nature, in that it is divided into two distinct parts. The first part, the training of new US Marine Corps recruits, accepted to be a positive thing by a wide range of American population, is depicted as very disturbing. The Vietnam war, which is the second part of the movie, is gruesome in the minds of people. It is shown to be milder and even funny at times, while still showing the horrors present in war.

In the next level, each dual part of the movie has its own ambiguity. In the first half of the movie, the recruit training is supposed to train soldiers who protect the interests of the country and the military, but at the end the training results in the death of the senior drill instructor. Pvt. Gomer Pyle appeared to be an innocent character in the beginning of the movie and eventually ended up as a killer, exactly like the drill instructor wanted. The murder of the senior drill instructor is ironic because his success in converting Pvt. Gomer Pyle into a killer results in his own death. The drill instructor tells his recruits what a marine is capable of doing in his speech about famous assassins, thus giving Pyle his murderous idea. In the second half of the movie, the protagonist wants to get in "the shit" but eventually at the end of the movie, is happy just to be alive. The irony is that the product of the US marine recruit training, killers, are wiped out one by one by a small school girl who snipes them from a damaged building.

The movie is full of satires about the war providing freedom for the Vietnamese people by taking away the freedom of the American people, and the fact that the Vietnamese don't seem to want their freedom (in a satirical scene). There are also several references to religion, the senior drill instructor is a Roman-Catholic. In one of the scenes the senior drill instructor asks Pvt. Joker whether he believes in the Virgin Mary, and Pvt Joker replies that he does not. The senior drill instructor, although offended, promotes Pvt. Joker to squad leader reasoning that although Pvt. Joker is ignorant, he has got guts.


The following is a list of song titles used through out the film.


  • Kubrick provided the voice of Murphy, the soldier on the other end of the radio communication in the latter part of the film.

External links



de:Full Metal Jacket (Film) es:La chaqueta metlica fr:Full Metal Jacket it:Full Metal Jacket ja:フルメタル・ジャケット nl:Full Metal Jacket sv:Full Metal Jacket


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